The impact of modern preoperative high-dose-rate brachytherapy in early-stage cervical cancer

Gynecol Oncol. 2021 Apr;161(1):166-172. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2021.01.034. Epub 2021 Feb 6.


Purpose: To analyze the clinical outcomes and the safety of preoperative high-dose-rate (HDR) image-guided adaptive brachytherapy (IGABT) followed by minimally invasive surgery (MIS) in the multidisciplinary management of early-stage cervical cancer.

Methods and materials: Medical records of all consecutive patients with early-stage cervical cancer treated at our institution between 2012 and 2018 with preoperative IGABT in a multidisciplinary approach were reviewed. Treatment schedule was pelvic node dissection, preoperative IGABT followed 6-8 week later by MIS hysterectomy.

Results: Seventy patients with cervical cancer FIGO stages (IB1 18.6%, IB2 75.7% and IIA1 5.7%) were treated by preoperative HDR brachytherapy. With a median follow-up of 37.4 months [95% confidence interval, 32.1-39.7 months] isolated vaginal vault recurrence was not observed, 3 pelvic relapses were reported (4.3%). None of patients received postoperative radiotherapy (EBRT) or radiochemotherapy. The estimated 3-year local and pelvis relapse free survival for the entire population were respectively 98% [95% confidence interval, 89%-100%] and 90% [80%-96%]. The estimated 3-year disease-free survival (DFS) for the entire population was 88% [77-94%]. The 3-year overall survival (OS) rate was 97% [88%-99%]. Microscopic vaginal resection margin (R1) was observed in one patient ([1].4%). Lymph-vascular space invasion (LVSI) was found found in 6 (8.6%) patients. Forty-eight late complications in 36 patients (51.4%) were observed. Five (7.1%) grade 3 vaginal wound dehiscence toxicities were observed. Urinary and gastrointestinal toxicities were grade 1-2. No grade 4-5 complications were observed.

Conclusions: Preoperative image-guided adaptive brachytherapy followed by minimally invasive surgery allows high local control, reduces positive surgical margins and rates of lymph-vascular space invasion avoiding adjuvants treatments. Surgical approaches must be discussed with patients including preoperative brachytherapy as a down-staging treatment.

Keywords: Early-stage cervical cancer; Hysterectomy; Image-guided adaptive brachytherapy; Minimally invasive surgery; Preoperative brachytherapy.