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Purpose of review: Epithelial ovarian cancer is the most frequent cause of gynecologic cancer-related mortality in women, and prognosis for patients with recurrent or metastatic disease is extremely poor. Therefore, there is an enormous unmet need for the development of novel therapies in this indication. Although surgery and chemotherapy can improve survival rates, it is necessary to integrate alternative strategies, such as immunotherapy to improve the outcomes for patients with advanced ovarian cancer.

Recent findings: We will discuss the rationale of immunotherapy and some of the mechanisms of immunogenicity in ovarian cancer. We will highlight current results with cancer vaccines, adoptive T-cell therapy and immunomodulatory agents and will summarize the immune effects of selected chemotherapeutic agents, radiotherapy and recent results with combinatorial approaches in this disease setting. We will also discuss recent and potential future therapeutic interventions that might circumvent tumor-mediated immunosuppression.

Summary: Dramatic increase in the number of immunotherapy clinical trials was seen in the past decade with promising results in enhancing antitumor immune response and cancer vaccine efficacy. The future challenge for immunotherapy against ovarian cancer is to use a combinatorial approach to test rational, potentially synergistic immunotherapy combinations that can induce efficient antitumor immunity and prolong patients' survival.

(C) 2014 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.