Purpose: This report presents guidelines for using high-dose-rate (HDR) brachytherapy in the management of patients with cervical cancer, taking into consideration the current availability of resources in most institutions.
Methods: Members of the American Brachytherapy Society (ABS) with expertise in HDR brachytherapy for cervical cancer performed a literature review, supplemented their clinical experience to formulate guidelines for HDR brachytherapy of cervical cancer.
Results: The ABS strongly recommends that definitive irradiation for cervical carcinoma must include brachytherapy as a component. Each institution should follow a consistent treatment policy when performing HDR brachytherapy, including complete documentation of treatment parameters and correlation with clinical outcome, such as pelvic control, survival, and complications. The goals are to treat Point A to at least a total low-dose-rate (LDR) equivalent of 80-85 Gy for early stage disease and 85-90 Gy for advanced stage. The pelvic sidewall dose recommendations are 50-55 Gy for early lesions and 55-65 Gy for advanced ones. The relative doses given by external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) vs. brachytherapy depend upon the initial volume of disease, the ability to displace the bladder and rectum, the degree of tumor regression during pelvic irradiation, and institutional preference. As with LDR brachytherapy, every attempt should be made to keep the bladder and rectal doses below 80 Gy and 75 Gy LDR equivalent doses, respectively. Interstitial brachytherapy should be considered for patients with disease that cannot be optimally encompassed by intracavitary brachytherapy. While recognizing that many efficacious HDR fractionation schedules exist, some suggested dose and fractionation schemes for combining the EBRT with HDR brachytherapy for each stage of disease are presented. These recommendations are intended only as guidelines, and the suggested fractionation schemes have not been thoroughly tested. The responsibility for the medical decisions ultimately rests with the treating radiation oncologist.
Conclusion: Guidelines are established for HDR brachytherapy for cervical cancer. Practitioners and cooperative groups are encouraged to use these guidelines to formulate their treatment and dose-reporting policies. These guidelines will be modified, as image-based treatment becomes more widely available.