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Routine Intraoperative Frozen Section Examination to Minimize Bimodal Treatment in Early-Stage Cervical Cancer
  1. Phanedra K. Gubbala, MBBS,
  2. Alexandros Laios, MD, PhD,
  3. Zhe Wang, PhD,
  4. Sunanda Dhar, MBBS, MRCP, MD,
  5. Pubudu J. Pathiraja, MBBS, MSc, MRCOG,
  6. Krishnayan Haldar, MBBS, MRCOG and
  7. Sean T. Kehoe, MBBS, MRCOG, MD
  1. * Gynaecologic Oncology Unit, Churchill Hospital,
  2. Clinical Trial Service Unit, and
  3. Department of Cellular Pathology, Oxford University Hospitals, Oxford; and
  4. § School of Cancer Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom.
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Alexandros Laios, MD, PhD, Gynaecologic Oncology Unit, Churchill Hospital, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, Oxford, United Kingdom. E-mail: alxlaios2000{at}; alex.laios{at}


Objective In early-stage cervical cancer, single modality therapy is the main objective, to minimize patient morbidity while offering equivalent cure rates. Intraoperative frozen section examination (FSE) of lymph nodes (LNs) can facilitate this aim, ensuring that radical surgery is avoided in patients requiring adjuvant therapy for metastatic LN involvement. We aimed to evaluate the accuracy of routine intraoperative FSE of pelvic LNs during the surgical staging of early-stage cervical cancers and identify a group at low risk for nodal metastases.

Methods A retrospective cohort study of 94 women aged 23 to 80 years who underwent primary surgery and planned intraoperative FSE of the pelvic LNs at the gynecological cancer center in Oxford was performed. The diagnostic value of FSE and the prediction of metastatic nodal disease were assessed by use of preoperative and intraoperative variables.

Results A total of 1825 LNs were submitted for FSE. Of 94 women (13.8%), 13 had positive LNs at FSE. Two false-negative cases were reported with micrometastases but no false-positive cases. Frozen section examination as a diagnostic test reached a sensitivity of 86.7% and a specificity of 100%. A regression model including grade I to II and tumor size of less than 20 mm identified a low-risk group for LN involvement.

Conclusions In light of diverse practice patterns, FSE should be routinely offered to women with early-stage cervical cancer in a 1-step protocol. We equally devised a model to predict those patients at least risk of nodal disease, who may be spared of FSE.

  • Cervical cancer
  • Frozen section examination
  • Pelvic lymphadenectomy
  • Radical hysterectomy

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  • The authors declare no conflicts of interest.