Pathologic and clinical tumor size discordance in early-stage cervical cancer: Does it matter?

Gynecol Oncol. 2020 Nov;159(2):354-358. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2020.08.004. Epub 2020 Sep 2.


Objective: The objective of this study was to assess the rate of discordance between clinical and pathologic tumor size for women with stage IB1 cervical cancer (FIGO 2009 criteria), assess risk factors for discordance, and determine the impact of discordance on oncologic outcomes.

Methods: This was a secondary analysis of a prior multi-institutional retrospective review of patients diagnosed with stage IB1 (FIGO 2009 staging) cervical cancer undergoing radical hysterectomy between 2010 and 2017. Demographic, clinicopathologic, and oncologic data were collected. Pathologic upstaging was defined as having a preoperative diagnosis of stage IB1 cervical cancer with pathology demonstrating a tumor size >4 cm. Demographic and clinicopathologic data was compared using chi-square, fisher exact or 2-sided t-test. Survival was estimated using the Kaplan-Meier method.

Results: Of the 630 patients, 77 (12%) were upstaged. Patients who were upstaged had lower rates of preoperative conization (p < .001) or preoperative tumor sizes ≤2 cm (p < .001). Upstaged patients had increased odds of deep stromal invasion, lymphovascular space invasion, positive margins and positive lymph nodes. Almost 88% of upstaged patients received adjuvant therapy compared to 29% of patients with tumors ≤4 cm (odds 18.49, 95% CI 8.99-37.94). Finally, pathologic upstaging was associated with an increased hazard of recurrence (hazard ratio [HR] 1.95, 95% CI 1.03-3.67) and all-cause death (HR 2.31, 95% CI 1.04-5.11).

Conclusions: Pathologic upstaging in stage IB1 cervical cancer is relatively common. Upstaging is associated with an 18-fold increased risk of receipt of adjuvant therapy. Patients undergoing preoperative conization and those with tumors <2 cm had lower risks of upstaging. Improvement in preoperative assessment of tumor size may better inform primary treatment decisions.

Keywords: Cervical cancer; Clinical staging; Pathologic staging; Tumor size.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant / statistics & numerical data
  • Conization / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hysterectomy / statistics & numerical data
  • Lymph Node Excision / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / pathology
  • Neoplasm Staging / methods*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / mortality
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / surgery