Purpose: To utilize the National Cancer Data Base to evaluate trends in brachytherapy and alternative radiation therapy utilization in the treatment of cervical cancer, to identify associations with outcomes between the various radiation therapy modalities.
Methods and materials: Patients with International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics stage IIB-IVA cervical cancer in the National Cancer Data Base who received treatment from January 2004 to December 2011 were analyzed. Overall survival was estimated by the Kaplan-Meier method. Univariate and multivariable analyses were performed to identify factors associated with type of boost radiation modality used and its impact on survival.
Results: A total of 7654 patients had information regarding boost modality. A predominant proportion of patients were Caucasian (76.2%), had stage IIIB (48.9%) disease with squamous (82.0%) histology, were treated at academic/research centers (47.7%) in the South (34.8%), and lived 0 to 5 miles (27.9%) from the treating facility. A majority received brachytherapy (90.3%). From 2004 to 2011, brachytherapy use decreased from 96.7% to 86.1%, whereas intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) use increased from 3.3% to 13.9% in the same period (P<.01). Factors associated with decreased brachytherapy utilization included older age, stage IVA disease, smaller tumor size, later year of diagnosis, lower-volume treatment centers, and facility type. After controlling for significant factors from survival analyses, IMRT or SBRT boost resulted in inferior overall survival (hazard ratio, 1.86; 95% confidence interval, 1.35-2.55; P<.01) as compared with brachytherapy. In fact, the survival detriment associated with IMRT or SBRT boost was stronger than that associated with excluding chemotherapy (hazard ratio, 1.61' 95% confidence interval, 1.27-2.04' P<.01).
Conclusions: Consolidation brachytherapy is a critical treatment component for locally advanced cervical cancer; however, there has been declining utilization of brachytherapy. Increased use of IMRT and SBRT boost coupled with increased mortality risk should raise concerns about utilizing these approaches over brachytherapy.
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