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The therapeutic value of adjuvant chemotherapy after concurrent chemoradiotherapy for locally advanced cervical cancer.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to evaluate the therapeutic value and treatment-related complications of adjuvant chemotherapy after concurrent chemoradiotherapy (CCRT) for locally advanced cervical cancer (LACC).

DESIGN: The medical records of LACC patients who underwent CCRT were reviewed retrospectively.

METHODS: A total of 1,138 patients with LACC who had been treated at our hospital between January 2013 and December 2017 were included in the study and classified into two groups: the CCRT group, comprising 726 patients who had received only CCRT, and the CCRT + ACT group, comprising 412 patients who had received three cycles of adjuvant chemotherapy after CCRT. 39 patients in the CCRT group and 50 patients in the CCRT + ACT group had undergone lymphadenectomy, which revealed pathology-positive lymph nodes in 22 patients and 35 patients, respectively. Progression-free survival (PFS), overall survival (OS) and adverse events were compared.

RESULTS: The median follow-up time was 61 months (range: 2-96 months). No significant differences in PFS and OS were found between the two groups (p > 0.05), but more grade 3-4 acute hematologic toxicities were observed in the CCRT + ACT group than in the CCRT group (24.8% vs. 31.8%, p = 0.01). A subgroup analysis of patients with pathology-positive lymph nodes showed that the five-year PFS and OS rates were 76.5% and 74.9%, respectively, for the CCRT + ACT group and 45.0% and 49.2%, respectively, for the CCRT group; the differences were statistically significant (p = 0.015 and 0.042, respectively).

LIMITATIONS: First, the sample size of the subgroup of patients with pathology-positive lymph nodes was too small for a confirmative conclusion. The heterogeneous population and the selection bias resulting from the retrospective design were the other flaws of our study.

CONCLUSION: The application of adjuvant chemotherapy after concurrent chemoradiotherapy may be worth investigating further for women with LACC and pathology-positive lymph nodes, but this approach is associated with an increase in acute hematology toxicities.

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