Ten-year data on 138 patients with endometrial carcinoma and postoperative vaginal brachytherapy alone: no need for external-beam radiotherapy in low and intermediate risk patients

Gynecol Oncol. 2007 Dec;107(3):541-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2007.08.055. Epub 2007 Sep 20.


Objective: To evaluate long-term outcome, risk factors, and causes of death in stage I-IIIA endometrial carcinoma (EC) patients treated only with adjuvant vaginal brachytherapy (VB) and to clarify for which subgroups of patients it is safe to omit external-beam radiotherapy (EBRT).

Methods: Out of 224 EC patients receiving postoperative radiotherapy between 1990 and 2002, 138 had VB alone in curative intent (FIGO [2002]: 85%I, 12%II, 3%IIIA; 18 low risk [IA G1-2, IB G1], 103 intermediate risk [IB G2-3, IC G1-2, IIA-B G1-2], 17 high risk [IC G3, IIIA]). After surgery+/-lymphadenectomy, HDR-brachytherapy prescription (in 95.7% of patients) was 3x10 Gy to the surface or 3x5 Gy at 5 mm tissue depths.

Results: Median follow-up was 107 months (range 3-185). Three intermediate and 7 high risk-patients relapsed. The 10-year vaginal control was 99.2%, locoregional control was 95.2% (low/intermediate/high risk: 100%/98.9%/68.8%), and disease-free survival (DFS) was 91.7% (100%/96.8%/55.2%). Risk factors for poor DFS were lymphovascular space invasion, > or = 50% myometrial invasion (univariate, p<0.05), pathological FIGO-stage, and grade 3 (uni-/multivariate, p<0.05). Leading causes of deaths (n=41) were cardiovascular disease (29%) and other malignancies (24%) ahead of EC (19.5%). The 10-year overall survival was 68.5% and the disease-specific survival was 92.4%. Thirty-five secondary tumors in 31 patients led to a higher actuarial death rate (10-year 9.9%, 15-year 17.7%) than EC (7.6%).

Conclusions: Restricting adjuvant therapy to VB alone seems to be safe in low and intermediate risk EC and can be recommended. As death rarely relates to early-stage EC, value of adjuvant therapy is probably better reflected by DFS rather than by overall survival.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brachytherapy / methods*
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / pathology
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / surgery
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / pathology
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Rate
  • Vagina