Comparison of adjuvant therapy for node-positive clinical stage IB-IIB cervical cancer: Systemic chemotherapy versus pelvic irradiation

Int J Cancer. 2017 Sep 1;141(5):1042-1051. doi: 10.1002/ijc.30793. Epub 2017 Jun 8.


This was a nation-wide retrospective study in Japan examining women who underwent radical hysterectomy for clinical stage IB-IIB cervical cancer with pelvic and/or para-aortic lymph node metastasis between 2004 and 2008. Time to recurrence or death and patterns of disease recurrence were compared based upon the adjuvant treatment pattern: whole pelvic radiotherapy alone (n = 253), concurrent chemoradiotherapy (CCRT, n = 502) and chemotherapy alone (n = 319). Women who received chemotherapy alone had similar recurrence (5-year rates, 36.6% vs. 34.1%, adjusted-hazard ratio [HR] 0.95, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.70-1.28, P = 0.72) and cervical cancer mortality (24.7% vs. 21.8%, adjusted-HR 0.96, 95% CI 0.67-1.38, P = 0.83) rates compared to those who received CCRT on multivariate analysis. However, when recurrence patterns were stratified, chemotherapy treatment was independently associated with decreased risk of distant recurrence (5-year cumulative rates, 19.2% vs. 24.6%, adjusted-HR 0.47, 95% CI 0.31-0.71, P < 0.001) but increased risk of local recurrence (23.9% vs. 14.3%, adjusted-HR 2.03, 95% CI 1.34-3.08, P = 0.001) compared to CCRT. Non-squamous histology, parametrial involvement and high lymph node ratio were independent predictors for local recurrence, and presence of multiple risk factors was associated with high 5-year cumulative local recurrence rate in the chemotherapy group: no risk factor 3.9%, single factor 14.2-22.1%, and multiple risk factors 27.8-71.9% (P < 0.001). In conclusion, while exhibiting different recurrence patterns, systemic chemotherapy may be as effective a postoperative treatment as radiation-based therapy in node-positive high-risk stage IB-IIB cervical cancer. When tumor exhibits certain risk factors, chemotherapy alone is likely insufficient for local control and adding pelvic irradiation to systemic chemotherapy is recommended in this subgroup.

Keywords: cervical cancer; chemotherapy; early stage; nodal metastasis; radical hysterectomy.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chemoradiotherapy / methods*
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hysterectomy
  • Japan
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Lymph Node Excision
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / epidemiology
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Radiotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / mortality
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / therapy*