What Is the Role of Imaging at Primary Diagnostic Work-Up in Uterine Cervical Cancer?

Curr Oncol Rep. 2019 Jul 29;21(9):77. doi: 10.1007/s11912-019-0824-0.


Purpose of review: For uterine cervical cancer, the recently revised International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) staging system (2018) incorporates imaging and pathology assessments in its staging. In this review we summarize the reported staging performances of conventional and novel imaging methods and provide an overview of promising novel imaging methods relevant for cervical cancer patient care.

Recent findings: Diagnostic imaging during the primary diagnostic work-up is recommended to better assess tumor extent and metastatic disease and is now reflected in the 2018 FIGO stages 3C1 and 3C2 (positive pelvic and/or paraaortic lymph nodes). For pretreatment local staging, imaging by transvaginal or transrectal ultrasound (TVS, TRS) and/or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is instrumental to define pelvic tumor extent, including a more accurate assessment of tumor size, stromal invasion depth, and parametrial invasion. In locally advanced cervical cancer, positron emission tomography-computed tomography (PET-CT) or computed tomography (CT) is recommended, since the identification of metastatic lymph nodes and distant metastases has therapeutic consequences. Furthermore, novel imaging techniques offer visualization of microstructural and functional tumor characteristics, reportedly linked to clinical phenotype, thus with a potential for further improving risk stratification and individualization of treatment. Diagnostic imaging by MRI/TVS/TRS and PET-CT/CT is instrumental for pretreatment staging in uterine cervical cancer and guides optimal treatment strategy. Novel imaging techniques may also provide functional biomarkers with potential relevance for developing more targeted treatment strategies in cervical cancer.

Keywords: Cervical cancer; Diffusion-weighted imaging; Imaging biomarkers; Magnetic resonance imaging; Positron emission tomography; Transvaginal ultrasound.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Positron Emission Tomography Computed Tomography / methods
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods
  • Ultrasonography / methods
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / therapy