Indexed on: 26 Mar '11Published on: 26 Mar '11Published in: International Journal of Clinical Oncology
Enlarged pelvic nodes are commonly found during preoperative imaging studies in cervical cancer patients and may represent tumor metastasis. It remains controversial whether debulking of these enlarged nodes prior to definitive radiotherapy offers any survival benefit to the patient.Enlarged suspicious pelvic nodes identified by imaging studies in stage 1B to stage IIA (early-stage) cervical cancer patients prior to scheduled radical hysterectomy and in stage 1B2 or above (advanced-stage) cervical cancer patients destined for radiotherapy were debulked. Patients with confirmed nodal metastasis (node-positive) were primarily treated by radiotherapy and patients with no evidence of nodal metastasis (node-negative) were treated as planned. Clinical outcomes of these two groups of patients are reported after a long-term follow-up.Sixteen of 110 early-stage and 37 of 97 advanced-stage cervical cancer patients had their enlarged metastatic nodes removed before they were treated by radiotherapy. Microscopic metastatic pelvic nodes were found in six additional patients after the radical hysterectomy and four of them received postoperative adjuvant radiotherapy. After a median follow-up of 62 months, the rates of recurrence inside the pelvis are not significantly different between node-positive and node-negative patients with both early-stage and advanced-stage disease. Recurrences outside the pelvis occurred in 59.1% early-stage and 44.8% advanced-stage node-positive patients, and were the primary cause of poor survival.Debulking enlarged metastatic pelvic nodes may help reducing pelvic recurrence but does not seem to benefit survival.