Purpose: This report presents guidelines for using low-dose-rate (LDR) brachytherapy in the management of patients with cervical cancer.
Methods: Members of the American Brachytherapy Society (ABS) with expertise in LDR brachytherapy for cervical cancer performed a literature review, supplemented by their clinical experience, to formulate guidelines for LDR brachytherapy of cervical cancer.
Results: The ABS strongly recommends that radiation treatment for cervical carcinoma (with or without chemotherapy) should include brachytherapy as a component. Precise applicator placement is essential for improved local control and reduced morbidity. The outcome of brachytherapy depends, in part, on the skill of the brachytherapist. Doses given by external beam radiotherapy and 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 practice. The ABS recognizes that intracavitary brachytherapy is the standard technique for brachytherapy for cervical carcinoma. Interstitial brachytherapy should be considered for patients with disease that cannot be optimally encompassed by intracavitary brachytherapy. The ABS recommends completion of treatment within 8 weeks, when possible. Prolonging total treatment duration can adversely affect local control and survival. Recommendations are made for definitive and postoperative therapy after hysterectomy. Although recognizing that many efficacious LDR dose schedules exist, the ABS presents suggested dose and fractionation schemes for combining external beam radiotherapy with LDR brachytherapy for each stage of disease. The dose prescription point (point A) is defined for intracavitary insertions. Dose rates of 0.50 to 0.65 Gy/h are suggested for intracavitary brachytherapy. Dose rates of 0.50 to 0.70 Gy/h to the periphery of the implant are suggested for interstitial implant. Use of differential source activity or loading minimizes excessive central dose rates. These recommendations are intended only as guidelines. The responsibility for medical decisions ultimately rests with the treating radiation oncologist.
Conclusion: Guidelines are suggested for LDR brachytherapy for cervical cancer. Practitioners and cooperative groups are encouraged to use these guidelines to formulate their treatment and dose-reporting policies.