Purpose: The aim of this study was to investigate changes in tumor oxygenation, assessed by polarographic needle electrode measurements, following fractionated external beam radiotherapy in carcinoma of the cervix.
Methods and materials: Normal and tumor tissue oxygenation was measured in 19 patients prior to radiotherapy and after 40-45 Gy of external beam radiotherapy delivered in 20 fractions over 4 weeks. All measurements were performed during anesthesia.
Results: There was no significant difference in the level of normal tissue oxygenation pre- and post radiotherapy. The individual patient median tumor pO2 values ranged from 0 to 31 mmHg pre-radiotherapy and 1 to 61 mmHg post-radiotherapy. The mean of the 19 median pO2 values increased from 8 (SD +/- 10) mmHg to 20 (+/- 20) mmHg following external beam radiotherapy. The increase was significant by paired Wilcoxon test (p = 0.011). There was also a significant fall in the proportion of values < 5 mmHg (p = 0.040). Although this value remained constant, or fell, in the majority of patients (15/19), it increased in 4 tumors. Tumor size pre- and postradiotherapy did not correlate with the level of pretreatment oxygenation; neither did the change in tumor size and change in level of oxygenation.
Conclusion: The level of tumor oxygenation increased in the majority of patients (15/19) following 40-45 Gy of radiotherapy in carcinoma of the cervix.