JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Pre-treatment surgical para-aortic lymph node assessment in locally advanced cervical cancer

Elly Brockbank, Fani Kokka, Andrew Bryant, Christophe Pomel, Karina Reynolds
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011, (4): CD008217
21491407

BACKGROUND: Cervical cancer is the most common cause of death from gynaecological cancers worldwide. Locally advanced cervical cancer, FIGO stage equal or more than IB1 is treated with chemotherapy and external beam radiotherapy followed by brachytherapy. If there is metastatic para-aortic nodal disease radiotherapy is extended to additionally cover this area. Due to increased morbidity, ideally extended-field radiotherapy is given only when para-aortic nodal disease is proven. Therefore accurate assessment of the extent of the disease is very important for planning the most appropriate treatment.

OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the effectiveness and safety of pre- treatment surgical para-aortic lymph node assessment for woman with locally advanced cervical cancer (FIGO stage IB2 to IVA).

SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched the Cochrane Gynaecological Cancer Group Trials Register, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (The Cochrane Library 2011, Issue 1), MEDLINE and EMBASE (up to January 2011). We also searched registers of clinical trials, abstracts of scientific meetings, reference lists of included studies and contacted experts in the field.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that compared surgical para-aortic lymph node assessment and dissection with radiological staging techniques, in adult women diagnosed with locally advanced cervical cancer.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two reviewers independently assessed whether potentially relevant trials met the inclusion criteria, abstracted data and assessed risk of bias. One RCT was identified so no meta-analyses were performed.

MAIN RESULTS: We found only one trial, which included 61 women, that met our inclusion criteria. This trial reported data on surgical versus clinical staging and an assessment of the two surgical staging techniques; laparoscopic (LAP) versus extraperitoneal (EXP) surgical staging. The clinical staging was either a contrast-enhanced CT scan or MRI scan of the abdomen and pelvis to determine nodal status.In this trial, clinical staging appeared to significantly prolong overall and progression-free survival compared to surgical staging. There was no statistically significant difference in the number of women who experienced severe (grade 3 or 4) toxicity.There was no statistically significant difference in the risk of death, disease recurrence or progression, blood loss, severe toxicity and the duration of the operational procedure between LAP and EXP surgical staging techniques.The strength of the evidence is weak in this review as it is based on one small trial which was at moderate risk of bias.

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: From the one available RCT we found insufficient evidence that pre-treatment surgical para-aortic lymph node assessment for locally advanced cervical cancer is beneficial, and it may actually have an adverse effect on survival. However this conclusion is based on analysis of a small single trial and therefore definitive guidance or recommendations for clinical practice cannot be made.Therefore the decision to offer surgical pre-treatment assessment of para-aortic lymph nodes in locally advanced cervical cancer needs to be individualised. The uncertainty regarding any impact on survival from pre-treatment para-aortic lymph node assessment should be discussed openly with the women.

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