Background: Recent evidence suggests that neuraxial and regional anaesthesia may influence the progression of the underlying malignant disease after surgery.
Methods: This retrospective cohort study assessed whether neuraxial anaesthesia would affect the progression of cervical cancer in 132 consecutive patients who were treated with brachytherapy in a tertiary cancer centre in Australia.
Results: Age, American Society of Anesthesiologists status, International Federation of Gynecologists and Obstetricians (FIGO) cancer staging, invasion into the uterus, tumour volume, and tumour cell types were not significantly different between patients who received neuraxial and general anaesthesia during their first brachytherapy treatment. The use of neuraxial anaesthesia during the first brachytherapy was not associated with a reduced risk of local or systemic recurrence [hazard ratio (HR) 0.95, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.54-1.67; P=0.863], long-term mortality from tumour recurrence (HR 1.46, 95% CI 0.75-2.84; P=0.265), or all-cause mortality (HR 1.46, 95% CI 0.81-2.61; P=0.209), after adjusting for other prognostic factors. Tumour recurrence and long-term survival were only significantly associated with the tumour cell type, tumour volume, and FIGO tumour staging. Sensitivity analyses using proportions of all brachytherapy sessions performed under neuraxial anaesthesia also did not show any beneficial effects of neuraxial anaesthesia on tumour recurrence and long-term survival.
Conclusions: Using neuraxial anaesthesia during brachytherapy for patients with cervical cancer was not associated with a reduced risk of tumour recurrence and mortality when compared with general anaesthesia.