Seventy-one patients with stage IIb-IVa cervical cancer were entered on a randomized trial comparing standard pelvic radiotherapy vs. 3 cycles of combination chemotherapy with cisplatin, vinblastine and bleomycin followed by pelvic radiotherapy. Four out of 34 patients randomized to PVB followed by radiotherapy received no PVB and a further 3 patients had only one or 2 cycles of chemotherapy prior to radiotherapy due to drug-related toxicity or progressive disease. After a median follow-up of 3.1 years, no significant difference in survival has emerged between the two randomized groups. However, a difference in the pattern of relapse is emerging with a relatively reduced frequency of systemic relapse in patients receiving chemotherapy prior to local radiotherapy compared to radiotherapy alone. Tumor response was seen following PVB treatment and prior to radiotherapy in 47% of patients. Overall the tumor response rate following completion of radiotherapy was 89% in those treated by radiotherapy and 94% after PVB+radiotherapy. Thirty-three percent of patients randomized to radiotherapy alone relapsed first at a distant (extra pelvic site), and only 18% of patients randomized to initial PVB followed by radiotherapy relapsed systemically initially. When results are presented according to treatment actually given, these trends in patterns of treatment failure are magnified. No treatment-related deaths were reported, and there was no excess of complications with pelvic radiotherapy in the group who had received prior PVB chemotherapy.
- locally advanced cervical cancer
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