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Cervical Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Stage III Cervical Cancer

The size of the primary tumor is an important prognostic factor and should be carefully evaluated in choosing optimal therapy.[1] Patterns-of-care studies in stage IIIA/IIIB patients indicate that survival is dependent on the extent of the disease, with unilateral pelvic wall involvement predicting a better outcome than bilateral involvement, which in turn predicts a better outcome than involvement of the lower third of the vaginal wall.[2] These studies also reveal a progressive increase in local control and survival paralleling a progressive increase in paracentral (point A) dose and use of intracavitary treatment. The highest rate of central control was seen with paracentral (point A) doses of more than 85 Gy.[3]

Patients who are surgically staged as part of a clinical trial and are found to have small volume para-aortic nodal disease and controllable pelvic disease may be cured with external-beam pelvic and para-aortic radiation therapy. If postoperative external-beam radiation therapy (EBRT) is planned following surgery, extraperitoneal lymph node sampling is associated with fewer radiation-induced complications than a transperitoneal approach.[4] The resection of macroscopically involved pelvic nodes may improve rates of local control with postoperative radiation therapy.[5] Treatment of patients with unresected periaortic nodes with extended-field radiation therapy leads to long-term disease control in those patients with low volume (<2 cm) nodal disease below L3. Patients who underwent extraperitoneal lymph node sampling had fewer bowel complications than those who had transperitoneal lymph node sampling.[6]

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Five randomized phase III trials have shown an overall survival advantage for cisplatin-based therapy given concurrently with radiation therapy,[7,8,9,10,11,12,13] while one trial examining this regimen demonstrated no benefit.[14] The patient populations in these studies included women with Féderation Internationale de Gynécologie et d'Obstétrique (FIGO) stages IB2 to IVA cervical cancer treated with primary radiation therapy and women with FIGO stages I to IIA disease who, at the time of primary surgery, were found to have poor prognostic factors, which included the following:

  • Metastatic disease in pelvic lymph nodes.
  • Parametrial disease.
  • Positive surgical margins.

Although the positive trials vary somewhat in terms of stage of disease, dose of radiation, and schedule of cisplatin and radiation, the trials demonstrate significant survival benefit for this combined approach. The risk of death from cervical cancer was decreased by 30% to 50% with the use of concurrent chemoradiation therapy. Based on these results, strong consideration should be given to the incorporation of concurrent cisplatin-based chemotherapy with radiation therapy in women who require radiation therapy for treatment of cervical cancer.[7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15]

Standard treatment options:

  • Radiation therapy plus chemotherapy. Intracavitary radiation and EBRT to the pelvis combined with cisplatin or cisplatin/fluorouracil.[7,8,9,10,11,12,16]
1|2

WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: February 25, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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