Purpose: In human cervix cancer treated with radiotherapy, we have previously shown from separate groups of patients that tumor hypoxia and proliferation rate as measured by bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) labeling index (LI) are important determinants of clinical outcome. We now examine the relationship of these two pre-treatment predictive assays in 43 patients studied prospectively from 1994-98 where both tests were performed for each patient.
Material and methods: Newly diagnosed patients with carcinoma of the cervix were examined under anesthesia for staging purposes. Patients were given BrdU (200 mg) by intravenous route prior to the procedure. Tumor oxygenation was measured with the Eppendorf pO2 histograph. Biopsy of tumor was then performed and the BrdU LI was obtained by flow cytometry. The degree of tumor hypoxia for each tumor was expressed as median pO2 values, and as the percentage of pO2 readings <5 mm Hg (HP5).
Results: The median age was 53 years (range 23-79 years). There were 32 squamous, and 11 non-squamous carcinomas. FIGO stages were: IB and IIA, 8; IIB, 17; IIIB, 18; with a median tumor size of 6 cm (range 2-10 cm). The patients received uniform treatment with radical radiation therapy. There were 22 diploid and 21 aneuploid tumors. The median LI, pO2, and HP5 were 8.0%, 5.4 mm Hg, and 46.8%, respectively. Tests for linear associations showed no significant correlation between median pO2 vs. LI (r = 0.078, p = 0.62), and HP5 vs. LI (r = -0.14, p = 0.38).
Conclusions: The clinical outcome in this group of patients is immature, but these results suggest that tumor hypoxia and proliferation measurements are independent and potentially complementary predictive assays in cervix carcinoma. Further investigations are required to examine the distribution of proliferating tumor cells and its relationship with hypoxic tumor cells in tissue sections with the use of immunohistological techniques and image analysis systems.