Impact of surgical approach on oncologic outcomes in women undergoing radical hysterectomy for cervical cancer

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2019 Dec;221(6):619.e1-619.e24. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2019.07.009. Epub 2019 Jul 6.


Background: Recent studies demonstrating shorter survival among cervical cancer patients undergoing minimally invasive versus open radical hysterectomy could not account for surgeon volume and require confirmation in other jurisdictions with larger sample sizes, longer follow-up, and data on disease recurrence.

Objective: To determine if surgical approach is associated with oncologic outcomes in cervical cancer patients undergoing minimally invasive or open radical hysterectomy, while accounting for mechanistic factors including surgeon volume.

Study design: We performed a population-based retrospective cohort study of cervical cancer patients undergoing primary radical hysterectomy by a gynecologic oncologist from 2006 to 2017 in Ontario, Canada. A multivariable marginal Cox proportional hazards model and cause-specific hazards model were used to evaluate the association of surgical approach with all-cause death and recurrence respectively, clustering at the surgeon level. We tested for interactions between surgical approach and either pathologic stage or surgeon volume.

Results: We identified 958 patients (minimally invasive 475; open 483) with mean age 45.9 and a median follow-up of 6 years. Of minimally invasive procedures, 89.6% were performed laparoscopically and 10.4% robotically. The unadjusted 5-year cumulative incidences of all-cause death (minimally invasive 12.5%; open 5.4%), cervical cancer death (minimally invasive 9.3%; open 3.3%), and recurrence (minimally invasive 16.2%; open 8.4%) were significantly increased for minimally invasive radical hysterectomy in patients with stage IB disease, but not the cohort overall. After adjusting for patient factors and surgeon volume, minimally invasive radical hysterectomy was associated with increased rates of death (hazard ratio [HR], 2.20; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.15-4.19) and recurrence (HR, 1.97; 95% CI, 1.10-3.50) compared to open radical hysterectomy in patients with stage IB disease (n = 534), but not IA disease (n = 244; HR, 0.73; 95% CI, 0.13-4.01; HR, 0.34; 95% CI, 0.10-1.10).

Conclusion: Minimally invasive radical hysterectomy is associated with increased rates of death and recurrence in patients with stage IB cervical cancer even after controlling for surgeon volume; open radical hysterectomy should be the recommended approach in this population. Although there may be a subset of patients with microscopic early-stage disease for whom minimally invasive radical hysterectomy remains safe, additional studies are required.

Keywords: cervical cancer; hysterectomy; laparoscopy; laparotomy; minimally invasive surgical procedures; robotic surgical procedures; uterine cervical neoplasms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / mortality
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Adenocarcinoma / surgery*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Adenosquamous / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Adenosquamous / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Adenosquamous / surgery*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / surgery*
  • Cause of Death
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hysterectomy / methods*
  • Laparoscopy / methods*
  • Laparotomy / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / epidemiology
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Ontario
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Robotic Surgical Procedures / methods*
  • Survival Rate
  • Tumor Burden
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / mortality
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / pathology
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Young Adult