Combined Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy for Cervical Cancer

More than 50% of patients with newly diagnosed cervical cancer will undergo radiation therapy as a primary treatment modality. Results from five phase III trials conducted by National Cancer Institute (NCI)-sponsored cooperative groups showed significant survival advantages from the addition of cisplatin-based chemotherapy to primary radiation therapy, changing the standard of care for patients with bulky or locally advanced cervical carcinoma. The majority of patients for whom treatment fails, however, have persistent pelvic disease. Other agents (alone or in combination with cisplatin) with potential synergy with radiation therapy should be studied. Future trials should investigate potential interrelationships between anemia, tumor hypoxia, angiogenesis, and the effectiveness of radiation therapy. Therapies specific to tumor hypoxia (tirapazamine) or strategies to maintain higher nadir hemoglobin levels during treatment (aggressive transfusion policies; erythropoietin) should also be studied.

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Correspondence: David H. Moore, MD, Mary Fendrich Hulman Professor and, Chief of Gynecologic Oncology, Indiana University School of Medicine, 535 Barnhill Drive, RT433, Indianapolis, IN 46202-5274. E-mail: dhmoore@iupui.edu
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