Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate the outcome benefit of follow-up protocols for patients with recurrent endometrial and cervical cancer.
Methods: A retrospective review on patients primarily treated at the Division of Gynecologic Oncology, University of Brescia, was performed. We focused our attention on recurrent patients and we evaluated the pattern of relapse and the presence of symptoms or signs of disease at recurrence and evidence of disease on routine follow-up test or visits.
Results: The vast majority of recurrences occurred within the first 3 years after primary treatment (78% and 87% in endometrial and cervical cancers, respectively). A better overall survival from relapse was observed when vaginal relapse was compared to other sites in endometrial cancer patients and when pelvic recurrence was compared to distant sites in cervical cancer cases. Recurrent endometrial and cervical cancer patients were symptomatic in 52% and 65% of cases, respectively. Among asymptomatic recurrent endometrial cancer cases, pelvic examination, abdominal or pelvic ultrasound and CT could detect 92% of relapses, while the vast majority of cervical cancer relapses could be diagnosed by pelvic examination and/or CT (85%).
Conclusion: Endometrial cancer patients showed a significantly better prognosis when the recurrence was detected during follow-up visits, thus supporting the real advantage of our surveillance programs, while no statistically significant differences were found in survival of cervical cancer patients between the symptomatic and the asymptomatic group.