Background: Patients with cervical cancer who had negative para-aortic lymph nodes (PALNs) identified by pretreatment surgical staging were compared with patients who had only radiographic exclusion of PALN metastases before they received treatment with pelvic radiation and brachytherapy (RT) plus cisplatin (C)-based chemotherapy.
Methods: Patients who participated in 1 of 3 Phase III Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG) trials (GOG 85, GOG 120, and GOG 165) and who were assigned randomly to receive either RT plus C or RT plus C combined with 5-fluorouracil with or without hydroxyurea comprised this retrospective analysis. Patients who had negative PALN status determined by surgical sampling (mandatory in GOG 85 and GOG 120 and optional in GOG 165) were compared with patients who had negative PALN status determined radiographically (GOG 165).
Results: Five hundred fifty-five patients underwent surgical PALN sampling (the S group), and 130 patients underwent radiographic evaluation only (the R group). Age, race, histology, and tumor grade were similar. Patients in the R group had better performance status (P < .01), less advanced stage (P = .023), and smaller tumor size (P = .004) compared with patients in the S group, although patients with stage III and IV disease in the S group had better 4-year progression-free survival (48.9% vs 36.3%) and overall survival (54.3% vs 40%) compared with patients in the R group. In multivariate analysis, the R group was associated independently with a poorer prognosis compared with the S group (for disease progression: hazard ratio [HR], 1.35, 95% confidence interval [95% CI], 1.01-1.81; for death: HR, 1.46, 95% CI, 1.08-1.99).
Conclusions: Surgical exclusion (compared with radiographic exclusion) of positive PALNs in patients with cervical cancer who received chemoradiation (RT plus C-based chemotherapy) had a significant prognostic impact.