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Cervical Cancer Health Center

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Cervical Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Stages IIB, III, and IVA Cervical Cancer Treatment


The addition of adjuvant chemotherapy following chemoradiation therapy is currently being evaluated as part of a large multinational clinical trial. The OUTBACK trial (NCT01414608) is randomly assigning women to receive cisplatin (40 mg/m2 weekly for 5 doses) with whole-pelvic radiation therapy (standard chemoradiation therapy) with or without standard chemoradiation therapy plus adjuvant carboplatin (AUC 5 + paclitaxel 155 mg/m2).

Lymph Node Management

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 pelvic and para-aortic radiation therapy.[21] Treatment of patients with unresected periaortic nodes with extended-field radiation therapy leads to long-term disease control in patients with low-volume (<2 cm) nodal disease below L3.[22] A single study (RTOG-7920) showed a survival advantage in patients who received radiation therapy to para-aortic nodes without histologic evidence of disease.[23] Toxic effects are greater with para-aortic radiation than with pelvic radiation alone but were mostly confined to patients with previous abdominopelvic surgery.[23]

If postoperative EBRT is planned following surgery, extraperitoneal lymph-node sampling is associated with fewer radiation-induced complications than a transperitoneal approach.[24] Patients who underwent extraperitoneal lymph-node sampling had fewer bowel complications than those who had transperitoneal lymph-node sampling.[22,24,25]

The resection of macroscopically involved pelvic nodes may improve rates of local control with postoperative radiation therapy.[26] In addition, prospective data points to improvement in outcomes for patients who undergo resection of positive para-aortic lymph nodes before curative intent chemoradiation therapy; however, only patients with minimal nodal involvement (<5mm) benefited.[27]

Other Treatment Options

  1. Interstitial brachytherapy.
  2. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy.

Interstitial brachytherapy

For patients who complete EBRT and have bulky cervical disease such that standard brachytherapy cannot be placed anatomically, interstitial brachytherapy has been used to deliver adequate tumoricidal doses with an acceptable toxicity profile.[28]

Neoadjuvant chemotherapy

Several groups have investigated the role of neoadjuvant chemotherapy to convert patients who are conventional candidates for chemoradiation into candidates for radical surgery.[29,30,31,32,33] Multiple regimens have been used; however, almost all utilize a platinum backbone. The largest randomized trial to date was reported in 2001, and its accrual was completed before the standard of care included the addition of cisplatin to radiation therapy.[34] As a result, although there was an improvement in OS for the experimental arm, the results are not reflective of current practice. This study accrued patients with stages IB through IVA disease, but improvement in the experimental arm was only noted for participants with early stage disease (stages IB, IIA, or IIB).

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