Distant metastases after irradiation alone in carcinoma of the uterine cervix

Humberto Fagundes, Carlos A. Perez, Perry W. Grigsby, Mary Ann Lockett

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This is a retrospective analysis of 1211 patients with invasive carcinoma of the uterine cervix treated with irradiation alone from 1959 through 1986, of whom 322 developed distant metastases during the course of the disease. The 10-year actuarial incidence of distant metastases was 3% in Stage IA (34 patients), 16% in Stage IB (384 patients), 31% in Stage IIA (128 patients), 26% in Stage IIB (353 patients), 39% in Stage III (292 patients), and 75% in Stage IVA (20 patients). A multivariate analysis of factors influencing the incidence of distant metastases showed clinical stage, endometrial extension noted by dilatation and cureage (D&C) prior to therapy, and pelvic tumor control within each stage to be significant indicators of distant dissemination; histology, volume of disease, and age of patient were not significant. The frequency of metastases in all stages except IVA was greater when endometrial tumor extension was detected by D & C before to definitive irradiation (Stage IB, 28%; Stage IIA, 48%; Stage IIB, 42%; Stage III, 72%; and Stage IVA, 75%). In contrast, with normal D & C findings, the incidence of distant metastases was 15% in Stage IB, 29% in Stage IIA, 25% in Stage IIB, 45% in Stage III, and 84% in Stage IVA. The incidence of metastases in patients with pelvic tumor control was 11% in Stage IB, 22% in Stage IIA, 21% in Stage IIB, 34% in Stage III, and 50% in Stage IVA; in contrast, the corresponding incidence in patients failing in the pelvis was 76% in Stage IB, 88% in Stage IIA, 62% in Stage IIB, 87% in Stage III, and 74% in Stage IVA. The frequency of metastases per histology was comparable in squamous cell carcinoma and other histologic types. The incidence of metastases to other organs was 56%: Most frequent sites were lung, abdominal cavity, liver, and gastrointestinal tract. The incidence of clinically apparent lymph node involvement was 22%, predominately to paraaortic, supraclavicular, and inguinal nodes. Bone metastases occurred in 16% of the patients, most commonly to the lumbar and thoracic spine. Despite aggressive local therapy with excellent local control, the incidence of distant metastases in patients with invasive carcinoma of the uterine cervix is high. The management of these patients and their response to salvage therapy are discussed. The need for effective adjuvant systemic therapy in the management of patients with invasive carcinoma of the cervix is also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-204
Number of pages8
JournalInternational journal of radiation oncology, biology, physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1992


  • Cervix
  • Distant metastases
  • Irradiation


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