Could follow-up different modalities play a role in asymptomatic cervical cancer relapses diagnosis? An Italian multicenter retrospective analysis

Gynecol Oncol. 2007 Oct;107(1 Suppl 1):S150-4. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2007.07.028. Epub 2007 Sep 14.


Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate how much clinical surveillance performed by follow-up scheduled appointments may correctly identify asymptomatic recurrences and describe the pattern of relapse detected by procedures.

Methods: The records of 327 consecutive women with recurrent cervical cancer treated from 1980 to 2005 were retrospectively collected in 8 Italian Institutions. Primary disease and recurrence data were picked up: diagnosis, type of treatment, FIGO stage, tumour grade, histology, clinical lesion size, number of localizations and site of relapse, presence of symptoms and primary method of detection, the type of treatment of recurrence and follow-up data, such as appointment date, clinical status and procedure performed. A multivariate analysis was carried out using the Cox proportional hazards regression model. Survival curves were calculated using the Kaplan-Meier technique. Survival differences were evaluated by the log-rank test.

Results: Sixty-seven out of 327 patients (20.5%) had a local recurrence on vaginal vault, 120 (36.7%) in central pelvis, 31 (9.5%) in pelvic wall, 16 cases (4.9%) in lymph nodes. Seventy-nine patients (24.2%) showed a distant relapse while 14 (4.3%) developed both a distant and local relapse. Among patients with distant relapses 39 (49.4%) had lung metastasis, 41 (51.9%) an hepatic recurrence, 4 (5.1%) a bone relapse. Among distant sites 32 out of 79 patients (40.5%) had single relapse and 46 (58.2%) had multiple localizations. The site of relapse influenced survival since patients with vaginal vault recurrences lived significantly longer than patients with recurrences in other sites. Ninety-seven (29.7%) patients were symptomatic and anticipated the scheduled visit, 66 (20.2%) reported their symptoms during the follow-up visit and 164 (50.1%) were asymptomatic and the diagnostic path was introduced by a planned visit or exam. Between asymptomatic patients the first procedure was clinical visit for 85 patients out of 164 patients (51.8%), imaging for 60 patients (36.6%), both clinical visit and imaging for 14 (8.5%) and cytology for 5 (3%, Pap smear test). The median OS of symptomatic patients was 37 months versus 109 months of asymptomatic patients (Log rank, p=0.00001). The median survival since recurrence was 9 months for symptomatic patients and median was not reached for asymptomatic patients (p<0.0001). The median disease-free interval was 24 months for asymptomatic patients vs. 36 months for symptomatic patients (p=0.03).

Conclusions: Our study helps demonstrate the great need of prospective cost-effectiveness studies which are lacking at the present time.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / diagnosis*
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / pathology
  • Papanicolaou Test
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Recurrence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / pathology
  • Vaginal Smears