REVIEW
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Stage IB endometrial cancer. Does lymphadenectomy replace adjuvant radiotherapy?

BACKGROUND: The role of surgical lymph node dissection and adjuvant radiation therapy (RT) in early stage endometrial cancer is no longer clearly defined. The increased appreciation of lymphadenectomy and the absence of survival advantage from adjuvant RT rise controversies how patients should adequately be treated in stage IB endometrial cancer. The aim of this review is to rule out the validity of either treatment option and determine which preference provides the best therapeutic benefit.

METHODS: Reports of relevant studies obtained from a search of PubMed and studies referenced in those reports were reviewed.

RESULTS: Based on the available data in the literature, for stage IB grade 1 or 2, the risk of pelvic relapse is considered too low to justify pelvic RT. However, intravaginal RT (IVRT) should be recommended for those >or= 60 years old or with lymphovascular invasion (LVI). For patients with stage IB grade 3 (and IC all grades), the treatment recommendation is mainly based on whether surgical lymph node staging was performed. These patients have--without surgical lymph node staging--a high risk of pelvic recurrence and should therefore primarily undergo relaparotomy for lymphadenectomy or pelvic RT as second choice. If these patients had a surgical lymph node staging, then IVRT alone is a reasonable alternative to pelvic RT.

CONCLUSION: Overall survival may not be the only ideal endpoint for stage IB endometrial cancer since causes of death are mostly other than endometrial cancer. Conventional pelvic RT may be overtreatment in some patients, in particular in those patients with a large number of negative lymph nodes after lymphadenectomy. However, negative surgical staging should not be understood as adjuvant RT can be omitted in all patients.

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