Purpose: The purpose of this study is to delineate the factors which (a) contribute to an increase in the severe, radiation induced complication rate and (b) have a significant effect on survival in patients with International Federation of Gynecologists and Obstetricians (FIGO) Stage I-IVA cervical cancer undergoing pretherapy surgical staging.
Methods and materials: From 1971-1991, 189 patients underwent pretherapy surgical staging via a retroperitoneal approach (67) or transperitoneal approach (122). Seventy-nine patients had previously experienced a laparotomy. Patients subsequently received a median of 85 Gy to point A. In patients receiving paraaortic radiation, a median of 45 Gy was administered. One hundred and thirty-two (69.8%) patients received hydroxyurea as a radiation sensitizer.
Results: Pretherapy surgical evaluation revealed that 21 of 89 (23.6%) Stage II patients and 32 of 85 (37.6%) Stage III patients had paraaortic lymph node metastases. Multivariate logistic regression analysis detailed the significant factors favorably influencing the radiation-induced complication rate to be a retroperitoneal approach of pretherapy surgical staging and no previous laparotomy. Survival was significantly prolonged in patients receiving hydroxyurea, evaluated via a retroperitoneal incision, with negative paraaortic lymph nodes, and with an early stage of disease.
Conclusion: A retroperitoneal approach to pretherapy surgical staging and absence of previous surgery reduced the incidence of subsequent radiation-induced complications. Despite improvements in the detection of occult disease, prolonged survival is impaired when the therapeutic measures currently available are used.