Does intra-operative radiation at the time of pelvic exenteration improve survival for patients with recurrent, previously irradiated cervical, vaginal, or vulvar cancer?

Backes FJ, Billingsley CC, Martin DD, Tierney BJ, Eisenhauer EL, Cohn DE, O'Malley DM, Salani R, Copeland LJ, Fowler JM
Gynecol Oncol 135 95-9 10/01/2014


OBJECTIVE: To determine whether intra-operative radiation therapy (IORT) at the time of pelvic exenteration (PE) or laterally extended endopelvic resection (LEER) improves progression-free survival (PFS) in patients with recurrent, previously irradiated gynecologic cancers.

METHODS: We conducted a single institution retrospective review of patients who had undergone a complete PE for locally recurrent gynecologic cancer. Demographic and clinicopathologic data were collected.

RESULTS: 32 patients were identified (2000-2012); 21 (66%) cervical cancer, 8 (25%) vaginal, and 3 (9%) vulvar cancer. All patients were previously irradiated. Twenty-one (66%) received IORT. Mean age was 51. Eight patients had a LEER, all with IORT. Median PFS and OS, respectively, for those with PE alone was 33 and 41 vs. 10 and 10 months for PE+IORT compared to 9 and 17 months for LEER+IORT (P=.04). Increasing tumor size negatively impacted PFS (hazard ratio 1.3; 95%CI 1.12-1.52). Margin status was not associated with survival. No patients undergoing LEER+IORT recurred only locally whereas 62% recurred with a distant component (+/- local). Patients with PE alone had mainly local (36%) and few (9%) distant recurrences compared to 31% local and 38% distant (+/- local) recurrences for those with PE+IORT.

CONCLUSIONS: We failed to demonstrate that IORT changes survival and recurrence outcomes. However, patients with clinical indications for IORT at the time of PE have worse prognosis compared to those who do not require IORT. If the need for IORT is anticipated, the surgeon may consider performing a LEER to decrease local recurrence if cure is the goal or consider palliative treatment options.

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