JOURNAL ARTICLE
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The impact of pre-therapy extraperitoneal surgical staging on the evaluation and treatment of patients with locally advanced cervical cancer.

OBJECTIVE: The use of extraperitoneal surgical staging prior to treatment in patients with bulky or locally advanced cervical cancer allows the detection and treatment of disease beyond the standard pelvic radiation fields. This study was conducted to evaluate the impact of extraperitoneal surgical staging in the treatment and outcome of patients with locally advanced cervical cancer.

METHODS: 51 patients with locally advanced cervical cancer treated between 1985 and 1998 were retrospectively reviewed. Information on morbidity, usefulness, and results of surgery and patterns of disease recurrence were obtained. Survival distributions were calculated by the Kaplan-Meier product limit method and compared with the log-rank test.

RESULTS: All 51 women were surgically staged by an extra-peritoneal approach. Preoperative CT scans (n=27) when compared with surgical findings showed sensitivity for pelvic and para-aortic lymph node metastasis of 39%, specificity of 88%, positive predictive value of 39% and negative predictive value of 88%. Lymph node metastases were found in 30/51 patients (59%). There were no significant treatment delays or surgical morbidity as a result of extra-peritoneal surgical staging. In 21 patients (41%), the highest level of involved nodes was in the pelvis and they were treated with pelvic radiation. The para-aortic nodes were involved in nine patients (18%) and were treated with extended field radiation. All patients also received concurrent radiosensitization with chemotherapy. The estimated survival for the entire group was 60% at 5 years. For node negative patients, estimated 5-year survival was 67% while it was 54% for all node positive patients (p=0.17). Analysis according to anatomic site of involved nodes showed that the estimated 2-year and 5-year survival for those with pelvic nodal involvement was 81% and 64%, respectively. However, in the group of nine patients with para-aortic nodal disease, the estimated 2-year survival was 44%. Five (56%) were dead of disease with a median time to death of 16.0 months and four patients (44%) were alive with a median duration of follow up of 16.1 months. There was a statistically significant difference in survival for the group of patients with positive pelvic nodes only compared to the group with positive para-aortic nodes (p=0.03). The estimated 5-year survival by FIGO stage was 80%, 70% and 51% for stages Ib, II, III, disease, respectively. Factors that did not significantly affect survival included age, histology and type of chemotherapy.

CONCLUSIONS: Pre-therapy extra-peritoneal surgical staging resulted in treatment modification in 18% of patients with locally advanced cervical cancer. The morbidity from surgery and subsequent radiation therapy was acceptable. The procedure is recommended to allow for individualization of treatment in patients with local-regional cervical cancer.

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