Purpose: Definitive radiation therapy alone or combined with surgery in carcinoma of the uterine cervix yields comparable tumor control and survival in Stages I and IIA when patients are adequately treated with either modality. Our 30-year institutional experience is described.
Methods and materials: This is a nonrandomized comparison of treatment results of 415 patients with Stage IB, 137 with Stage IIA, and 340 with Stage IIB carcinoma of the uterine cervix treated with irradiation alone and 197 with Stage IB, 44 with Stage IIA, and 65 with limited Stage IIB treated with pre- or postoperative irradiation and surgery. Irradiation alone consisted of a combination of external beam therapy and intracavitary insertions to deliver doses of 70 to 85 Gy to point A for patients with Stages IB and IIA disease and 80 to 90 Gy for patients with bulky or Stage IIB tumors. For patients treated with irradiation and surgery, various combinations of external beam and intracavitary therapy were used to deliver 60 to 75 Gy to point A. Surgical procedures consisted of radical hysterectomy with or without lymph node dissection in 130 patients with Stage IB, 28 patients with Stage IIA, and 10 patients with limited Stage IIB. Fifty-seven patients had total abdominal or conservative hysterectomy with or without lymph node dissection, and 3 had vaginal hysterectomy. In addition, 51 patients with Stage IIB tumors underwent pelvic lymphadenectomy after definitive irradiation.
Results: The 5-year cause-specific survival (CSS) rates for patients with Stage IB nonbulky tumors treated with irradiation alone or irradiation combined with surgery were 90 and 85%, respectively, and the 10-year survival rate was 84% with either modality. In patients with bulky tumors (> 5 cm), the 5-year CSS rates were 61% with irradiation alone and 63% with irradiation plus surgery; at 10 years the rates were 61 and 68%, respectively (p = 0.5). For those with Stage IIA nonbulky tumors, the 5-year CSS rates were 75% with irradiation alone and 83% with combined irradiation and surgery, and 10-year CSS rates were 66 and 71%, respectively. In patients with Stage IIA bulky tumors, the 5-year CSS rates were 69% with irradiation alone and 60% with irradiation plus surgery, and at 10 years, 69 and 44%, respectively (p = 0.05). In patients with Stage IIB nonbulky tumors treated with irradiation alone or combined with surgery, the 5- and 10-year CCS rates were 72 and 65%, respectively; the corresponding survival rates with bulky tumors or bilateral parametrial involvement were 56 and 50%. Incidence of pelvic failures, alone or with distant metastasis, for Stage IB was 10% (43 out of 415) with irradiation alone and 14% (28 of 197) with irradiation plus surgery; for Stage IIA, 17% (23 out of 137) with irradiation alone and 20% (9 our of 44) with irradiation plus surgery; and for Stage IIB, 23% (88 out of 391) with irradiation alone and 29% (4 out of 14) with irradiation plus surgery. Grade 3 sequelae were comparable in both groups (irradiation alone, 5% to 11%; irradiation combined with surgery, 8% to 12%); the differences are not statistically significant. The most frequent major sequelae in 892 patients receiving irradiation only were rectovaginal fistula (13 cases, 1.5%), proctitis (10, 1.1%), small bowel obstruction (16, 1.8%), ureteral stricture (16, 1.8%), and vesicovaginal fistula (8, 0.9%). In 306 patients treated with irradiation plus surgery, the most commonly recorded major sequelae were small bowel obstruction/perforation (13 cases, 4.2%), ureteral stricture (8, 2.6%), vesicovaginal fistula (5, 1.6%), and rectovaginal fistula (4, 1.3%).
Conclusion: Irradiation alone or combined with surgery yields comparable pelvic tumor control, survival, and morbidity in patients with Stage IB, IIA, and limited IIB carcinoma of the uterine cervix.