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International radical trachelectomy assessment: IRTA study
  1. Gloria Salvo1,
  2. Pedro T Ramirez1,
  3. Mario Leitao2,
  4. David Cibula3,
  5. Christina Fotopoulou4,
  6. Ali Kucukmetin5,
  7. Gabriel Rendon6,
  8. Myriam Perrotta7,
  9. Reitan Ribeiro8,9,
  10. Marcelo Vieira10,
  11. Glauco Baiocchi11,
  12. Henrik Falconer12,
  13. Jan Persson13,
  14. Xiaohua Wu14,
  15. Mihai Emil Căpilna15,
  16. Nicolae Ioanid16,
  17. Berit Jul Mosgaard17,
  18. Igor Berlev18,
  19. Dilyara Kaidarova19,
  20. Alexander Babatunde Olawaiye20,
  21. Kaijiang Liu21,
  22. Silvana Pedra Nobre2,
  23. Roman Kocian3,
  24. Srdjan Saso22,
  25. Stuart Rundle5,
  26. Florencia Noll7,
  27. Audrey Tieko Tsunoda8,9,
  28. Kolbrun Palsdottir12,
  29. Xiaoqi Li14,
  30. Elena Ulrikh18,
  31. Zhijun Hu21 and
  32. Rene Pareja23,24
  1. 1 Department of Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA
  2. 2 Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, USA
  3. 3 General University Hospital in Prague, First Faculty of Medicine, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic
  4. 4 Department of Gynecologic Oncology, Imperial College London, London, UK
  5. 5 Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Gateshead, UK
  6. 6 Instituto de Cancerologia de las Americas, Medellin, Colombia
  7. 7 Ginecologia y Obstetricia, Hospital Italiano de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  8. 8 IOP Instituto de Oncologia do Parana, Curitiba, Brazil
  9. 9 Hospital Erasto Gaertner, Curitiba, Brazil
  10. 10 Hospital de Cancer de Barretos, Barretos, Brazil
  11. 11 A.C Camargo Cancer Center, São Paulo, Brazil
  12. 12 Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
  13. 13 Skane University Hospital, Scania, Sweden
  14. 14 Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center, Shanghai, China
  15. 15 First Clinic of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Medicine and Pharmacy of Târgu Mureş, Târgu Mureş, Romania
  16. 16 The Regional Institute of Oncology of Iasi, Iasi, Romania
  17. 17 Copenhagen University Hospital Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark
  18. 18 North-Western State Medical University. N.N. Petrov Research Institute of Oncology, Saint-Petersburg, Russian Federation
  19. 19 Kazahskij naucno-issledovatel'skij institut onkologii i radiologii, Almaty, Kazakhstan
  20. 20 Gynecologic Oncology, UPMC, Pittsburgh, USA
  21. 21 RenJi Hospital affiliated to Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China
  22. 22 Department of Gynecologic Oncology, Imperial College London, London, UK
  23. 23 Oncological surgery, Clinica Astorga, Envigado, Colombia
  24. 24 Instituto Nacional del Cancer, Bogota, Colombia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Gloria Salvo, Department of Gynecologic Oncology & Reproductive Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030, USA; glorietasalvo{at}gmail.com

Abstract

Background Radical trachelectomy is considered a viable option for fertility preservation in patients with low-risk, early-stage cervical cancer. Standard approaches include laparotomy or minimally invasive surgery when performing radical trachelectomy.

Primary Objective To compare disease-free survival between patients with FIGO (2009) stage IA2 or IB1 (≤2cm) cervical cancer who underwent open versus minimally invasive (laparoscopic or robotic) radical trachelectomy.

Study Hypothesis We hypothesize that minimally invasive radical trachelectomy has similar oncologic outcomes to those of the open approach.

Study Design This is a collaborative, multi-institutional, international, retrospective study. Patients who underwent a radical trachelectomy and lymphadenectomy between January 1, 2005 and December 31, 2017 will be included. Institutional review board approval will be required. Each institution will be provided access to a study-specific REDCap (Research Electronic Data Capture) database maintained by MD Anderson Cancer Center and will be responsible for entering patient data.

Inclusion Criteria Patients with squamous, adenocarcinoma, or adenosquamous cervical cancer FIGO (2009) stages IA2 and IB1 (≤2 cm) will be included. Surgery performed by the open approach or minimally invasive approach (laparoscopy or robotics). Tumor size ≤2 cm, by physical examination, ultrasound, MRI, CT, or positron emission tomography (at least one should confirm a tumor size ≤2 cm). Centers must contribute at least 15 cases of radical trachelectomy (open, minimally invasive, or both).

Exclusion Criteria Prior neoadjuvant chemotherapy or radiotherapy to the pelvis for cervical cancer at any time, prior lymphadenectomy, or pelvic retroperitoneal surgery, pregnant patients, aborted trachelectomy (intra-operative conversion to radical hysterectomy), or vaginal approach.

Primary Endpoint The primary endpoint is disease-free survival measured as the time from surgery until recurrence or death due to disease. To evaluate the primary objective, we will compare disease-free survival among patients with FIGO (2009) stage IA2 or IB1 (≤2cm) cervical cancer who underwent open versus minimally invasive radical trachelectomy.

Sample Size An estimated 535 patients will be included; 256 open and 279 minimally invasive radical trachelectomy. Previous studies have shown that recurrence rates in the open group range from 3.8% to 7.6%. Assuming that the 4.5-year disease-free survival rate for patients who underwent open surgery is 95.0%, we have 80% power to detect a 0.44 HR using α level 0.10. This corresponds to an 89.0% disease-free survival rate at 4.5 years in the minimally invasive group.

  • cervical cancer
  • radical trachelectomy
  • fertility-sparing surgery
  • minimally invasive surgery

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INTRODUCTION

Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women worldwide,1 2 with 85% of cases occurring in developing countries.3 4 Radical hysterectomy with pelvic lymphadenectomy represents the standard of care of patients with early stage disease (FIGO 2009 IA with lymphovascular space invasion IB1) who are not interested in future fertility. According to the 2018 National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines, radical hysterectomy can be performed either by laparotomy (open) or minimally invasive approach (laparoscopy or robotic).5 Thirty-eight percent of cervical cancers are diagnosed in women under the age of 456 and therefore, fertility-sparing surgery has emerged as an alternative for patients who wish to preserve fertility. The 2018 NCCN guidelines recommendation is to perform a radical trachelectomy and pelvic lymphadenectomy with or without sentinel lymph node mapping in patients interested in future fertility.5 Several publications have documented the safety and feasibility of the vaginal7–11 and laparotomic approach when performing radical trachelectomy.12–16 As minimally invasive surgery gained popularity, a number of investigators17–21 have published the safety and feasibility of the minimally invasive radical trachelectomy. Data on oncologic outcomes seemed to suggest that the minimally invasive approach was equivalent to the open approach when performing radical trachelectomy. In a recently published systematic review by Bentivegna et al,22 the authors analyzed six different fertility-sparing surgeries to treat stages IA to IIA1 cervical cancer. A total of 660 patients who underwent open radical trachelectomies were evaluated, with a 5% recurrence rate. Overall, 238 patients who underwent laparoscopic radical trachelectomy were analyzed, with a 6% recurrence rate.

A recent multicenter, prospective, randomized trial (LACC trial), compared oncologic outcomes in patients with early-stage cervical cancer who underwent radical hysterectomy by an open versus minimally invasive approach.23 In that study, the investigators found that minimally invasive radical hysterectomy was associated with lower rates of disease-free survival, higher rates of recurrences, and lower overall survival. Patients who underwent minimally invasive surgery were almost four times more likely to have a recurrence or death from disease than those who had open surgery (HR=3.74 [95% CI 1.63 to 8.58], p=0.002). Minimally invasive radical hysterectomy was associated with higher rates of loco-regional recurrences (HR=4.26 [95% CI 1.44 to 12.6], p=0.009). Also, patients who underwent minimally invasive surgery had a higher risk of death (HR=6.00 [95% CI 1.77 to 20.3], p=0.004). The unexpected result of the LACC trial raised a very important concern about the oncologic outcomes of patients undergoing radical trachelectomy by the minimally invasive approach.

Given the limited number of patients who are candidates for radical trachelectomy and the select indication, a randomized control trial comparing the open versus minimally invasive surgical approaches, is probably not feasible. The aim of this study is to perform a large, multicenter, retrospective analysis comparing open versus minimally invasive (laparoscopic or robotic) radical trachelectomy in patients diagnosed with stage IA2 and IB1 (≤2 cm) cervical cancer, to evaluate oncologic outcomes.

METHODS

Study Design

This is a collaborative multi-institutional retrospective study. Patients will be included if they were diagnosed between January 1, 2005 and December 31, 2017 inclusive, with early-stage cervical cancer (FIGO 2009 stage IA2 and IB1 ≤2 cm), and underwent open, laparoscopic, or robotic radical trachelectomy. A comparison of oncologic outcomes between laparotomy and laparoscopy or robotic radical trachelectomy will be performed. Each participating site will submit for institutional review board approval from their institution. An estimated 535 patients will be included in this study; 256 open and 279 minimally invasive surgery.

Each institution will be provided access to a study-specific REDCap database24 maintained by MD Anderson Cancer Center, and will be responsible for entering patient data from their institutions. Twenty one (21) sites are expected to participate in this study: MD Anderson Cancer Center (USA); Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (USA); General University Hospital in Prague, First Faculty of Medicine, Charles University (Czech Republic); Imperial College London (UK); Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Gateshead (UK); Instituto de Cancerologia de las Americas, Medellin (Colombia); Hospital Italiano de Buenos Aires (Argentina); Instituto de Oncologia do Parana, Curitiba (Brazil); Barretos Cancer Hospital, Barretos (Brazil); A.C. Camargo Cancer Center (Brazil); Karolinska Institute, Stockholm (Sweden); Skane University Hospital, Skane University Hospital, Lund (Sweden); Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center (China); First Clinic of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Medicine and Pharmacy of Târgu Mureş, (Romania); The Regional Institute of Oncology of Iasi (Romania); Copenhagen University Hospital Rigshospitalet (Denmark); North-Western State Medical University, N.N. Petrov Research Institute of Oncology, Saint-Petersburg (Russia); Kazakh Institute of Oncology and Radiology (Kazajstan); UPMC (USA); and RenJi Hospital affiliated to Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine (China). All variables collected on the trial are documented in the online supplementary appendix.

Supplemental material

Study Monitoring

Data monitoring will be assessed by auditing all participating sites by random selection of 10% of patients entered in the database. Sites will be asked for all source documents pertaining to selected patients. Data monitoring will be performed by the study management committee (online supplementary appendix), responsible for checking the accuracy, completeness, and credibility of all data and its compliance with the protocol.

Participants

Inclusion Criteria

Trachelectomy must have been performed between January 1, 2005 and December 31, 2017. Patients who underwent radical trachelectomy and pelvic lymphadenectomy with or without sentinel lymph node mapping for FIGO (2009) stage IA2 and IB1 cervical cancer. Patients must have had squamous, adenocarcinoma, or adenosquamous carcinoma tumors ≤2 cm either by physical examination and/or imaging studies. Surgery performed at centers included in the study with each center enrolling at least 15 patients who underwent radical trachelectomy by the open, laparoscopic, or robotics approach and all of these patients will be included in the final analysis. Negative nodes in pre-operative images. Patient follow-up will be performed every 3–4 months for 2 years and every 6–12 months in years 3 to 5. Follow-up procedures will be according to institutional guidelines.

Exclusion Criteria

Patients will be excluded if they have advanced stage disease (FIGO (2009) IB2, II, III, and IV), tumor size >2 cm, prior neoadjuvant chemotherapy or radiotherapy to the pelvis for cervical cancer treatment at any time, prior lymphadenectomy or pelvic retroperitoneal surgery, pregnant, stage IA1 with lymph vascular space invasion, histology other than squamous, adenocarcinoma, or adenosquamous carcinoma, aborted trachelectomy (conversion to radical hysterectomy), and vaginal approach (if the colpotomy is the only surgical step performed vaginally it will not be considered an exclusion criterion).

Outcomes

Primary objective

To compare disease-free survival between patients with FIGO (2009) stage IA2 or IB1 ≤2 cm cervical cancer who underwent open versus minimally invasive radical trachelectomy.

Secondary objectives

To compare recurrence rates and overall survival between patients with early-stage cervical cancer FIGO (2009) stage IA2 or IB1 (≤2 cm) who underwent open versus minimally invasive (laparoscopic or robotic) radical trachelectomy. To explore co-variates associated with disease-free survival, overall survival, and recurrence, including tumor size (≤1 cm vs 1–2 cm), stage (FIGO 2009 IA2 vs IB1 tumors), histology (squamous, adenocarcinoma, or adenosquamus carcinoma), grade (I–II vs III), surgical radicality (type II vs III), perineural invasion (yes vs none), and sentinel lymph node mapping (yes vs no)

Sample Size

An estimated 535 patients will be included in this study; 256 open and 279 minimally invasive. Previous studies have shown that recurrence rates in the open group ranges from 3.8% to 7.6%.25 Assuming that the 4.5 year disease free survival rate for patients who underwent open is 95.0%, we have 80% power to detect a 0.44 HR using α level 0.10. This corresponds to an 89.0% disease-free survival rate at 4.5 years in the minimally invasive group. This power calculation was performed with nQuery Advisor 7.0 (copyright 1995–2007, Statistical Solutions, Saugus, Massachusetts, USA).

Statistical Methods

The primary objective of this study is to compare disease-free survival between patients who underwent open radical trachelectomy versus minimally invasive surgery (laparoscopic or robotic radical trachelectomy). Disease-free survival will be measured from the time of surgery until the date of first recurrence or death from disease. Patients will be censored at their last clinic visit date known to be alive and disease free, or at the date of death from other causes. We will use the product limit estimator of Kaplan and Meier to estimate disease-free survival at 4.5 years and compare open versus minimally invasive surgery using the log-rank test.26 Since this is a retrospective study, the power analysis describes the likelihood that we would achieve statistical significance with the available sample size.

The proportion of recurrences will be summarized for each group (open vs minimally invasive). We will use the methods of Gooley et al,27 to estimate the cumulative incidence of disease recurrence as a function of the surgical method (open vs minimally invasive), with death as a competing risk. We will estimate the cumulative incidence overall and for each surgery method with a 95% CI. We will use the methods of Fine and Gray28 to compare the two groups with respect to cumulative incidence of recurrence. Overall survival will be measured from the time of diagnosis until death. Patients will be censored at their last contact date known to be alive. We will use the product limit estimator of Kaplan and Meier to estimate overall survival and compare open versus minimally invasive surgery using the log-rank test. We will use descriptive statistics to summarize the demographic and clinical characteristics of patients. We will also model disease-free survival and overall survival using Cox proportional hazards regression to estimate the HR and explore potential prognostic factors.

DISCUSSION

Evidence from a recently published prospective randomized trial23 suggests that the oncologic outcomes are inferior when performing minimally invasive radical hysterectomy compared with the open approach in patients with early cervical cancer. In another, study evaluating open versus minimally invasive radical hysterectomy through an analysis of a national registry database,29 the investigators found that for women who underwent minimally invasive surgery the 4-year mortality was 9.1% and 5.3% among those who underwent open surgery (HR=1.65; 95% CI 1.22 to 2.22; p=0.002), with median follow-up of 45 months. The adoption of minimally invasive surgery in 2006 coincided with a decline in the 4-year relative survival rate of 0.8% (95% CI 0.3% to 1.4%) per year (p=0.01 for change of trend). The study concludes that minimally invasive radical hysterectomy is associated with shorter overall survival than open surgery among women with stage IA2 or IB1 cervical cancer. Neither of these studies was designed to answer the question as to why the results are inferior with minimally invasive surgery. Among the proposed hypotheses is the suggestion that perhaps in patients with grossly visible tumor, the peritoneal cavity may be contaminated at the time of the colpotomy approach.30 Another potential hypothesis is that CO2 may impart a higher propensity for cervical cancer cells to migrate and implant throughout the peritoneal cavity.31

In the systematic review by Bentivegna et al,22 six different conservative strategies for treatment of cervical cancer were evaluated, including series from January 1, 1987 to February 1, 2016. For open radical trachelectomy, 660 patients were included (stages IA–IIA). Thirty-one patients had recurrent disease (5%). A total of 238 patients had laparoscopic radical hysterectomy (stage IA–IIA). Fifteen of these patients had recurrences (6%), of whom seven were diagnosed with tumors >2 cm (93 patients had no tumor size reported). Median follow-up was <24 months (range 4–66) and this was reported only in some series. A total of 89 patients underwent robotic surgery with only one series reporting follow-up time (>34 months). With this approach, two patients had recurrent disease (1.8%) with 20% of patients having close or positive margins. Some flaws need to be taken into account when analyzing that review. First, it is based on a composite analysis of small retrospective series, with the number of patients ranging from 1 to 73. Second, patients were included in the analysis who perhaps would not meet current criteria for radical trachelectomy, such as those with stages IB1 >2 cm, IB2, and IIA. Third, carcinomas other than squamous, adenocarcinoma, and adenosquamous carcinomas were included. Fourth, the oncologic outcome, tumor size, and follow-up time were reported in only a few series. Lastly, the time frame of the reported series was 29 years, thus making it difficult to compare results.

One important question that remains unanswered is whether there is a difference in oncologic outcomes with open versus minimally invasive radical trachelectomy in patients with tumor size ≤2 cm and negative lymph nodes. Many continue to wonder whether it is safe to carry out the minimally invasive approach in these patients. We hypothesized that minimally invasive radical trachelectomy has similar oncologic outcomes to those of the open approach.

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Footnotes

  • Collaborators Brandelyn Pitcher; Bryan M Fellman.

  • Contributors GS, PTR, RP: conception or design of the work, drafting the article, critical revision of the article, final approval of the version to be published. ML, SPN, DC, RK, CF, SS, AK, SR, GR, MP, FN, RR, AT, MV, GB, HF, KP, JP, XW, XL, MEC, NI, KL, ZH, BJM, IB, EU, DK, ABO: data collection and final approval of the version to be published. BP, BMF: data analysis and interpretation.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.