JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Indications for primary and secondary exenterations in patients with cervical cancer.

Gynecologic Oncology 2006 December
OBJECTIVE: Fifty years after the introduction of exenterative surgery in gynecologic oncology, the indication for primary and secondary exenteration is controversially discussed in cervical cancer patients. In addition, the term "palliative exenteration" is not precisely defined. We evaluate the role of primary exenteration in patients with stage IVA cervical cancer and the role of secondary palliative exenteration.

METHODS: The study retrospectively analyzed surgical and oncologic data of 55 patients who underwent exenterative surgery in the Department of Gynecology at the University of Jena between February 1998 and January 2004. Primary surgery was performed in 20 patients with laparoscopically confirmed stage IVA cervical cancer, while 35 patients with recurrent cervical cancer underwent secondary exenteration. Fifty-one had total, 3 posterior and 1 anterior exenteration. Survival was analyzed in relation to the patient's age, indication (primary versus secondary, curative versus palliative), previous therapy (operation, radiation, chemotherapy, radiochemotherapy), histology, resection margins, pelvic nodal involvement, time interval from primary therapy to recurrence, type of exenteration and adjuvant therapy. Early and late postoperative complications as well as perioperative mortality were reviewed.

RESULTS: The overall cumulative survival of all patients after exenteration was 36.8% at 5 years with 52.5% in the primary group and 26.7% in the recurrent one (p=0.0472). Complications were noted in 56.9% of patients, most commonly fistulas or gastrointestinal complications. Operative mortality was 5.5%. Survival correlated significantly with the time interval between primary treatment and recurrence (within 1-2 years 16.8% five-year survival, 2-5 years 28%, >5 years 83.2%, p=0.0105) as well as with curative or palliative intention (2-year survival rate of 60% in patients with curative intent, 10.5% in those with palliative intent, p=0.0001) and with tumor-free resection margins (2-year survival of 10.2% for positive margins, 5-year survival of 55.2% for negatives ones, p=0.0057). The age, the type of exenteration, the histologic type and the metastatic spread to pelvic lymph nodes had no significant influence on long-term survival.

CONCLUSION: In patients with histopathologically confirmed stage IVA cervical cancer primary, exenteration is a valid alternative to primary chemoradiation. In patients with persistent or recurrent tumor limited to the pelvis, secondary exenteration should be offered in the absence of other therapeutic options. Palliative and curative attempts can best be differentiated by the resection margin status.

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