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Christopher Loiselle and Wui-Jin Koh

Radiation therapy plays an important role in both the definitive and adjuvant treatment of patients with cervical cancer. However, although radiation therapy is effective in controlling tumor growth, associated acute and chronic adverse effects are well known. Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) is increasingly being used to treat cervical cancer and has the potential to improve the therapeutic ratio because of its ability to escalate dose to cancer targets while sparing adjacent healthy tissue. Multiple dosimetric studies were initially performed, establishing the conceptual feasibility of IMRT in patients with cervical cancer. Subsequent early reported series of patients treated with IMRT showed dosimetric and clinical benefits, with reduction in acute gastrointestinal and hematologic toxicity compared with historic controls, particularly in the posthysterectomy setting. Consensus is evolving regarding the use of IMRT in treating cervical cancer, particularly in the posthysterectomy setting, and for dose escalation to para-aortic nodes and bulky sidewall disease. Target delineation in the context of internal organ motion and tumor shrinkage during a course of fractionated external-beam radiotherapy remains an area of active investigation. IMRT in treating cervical cancer in the setting of an intact uterus remains in its nascent stage and should be used judiciously only within clinical trials. Although not a routine substitute for brachytherapy, it may be considered as a boost for highly selected patients who are not brachytherapy candidates.