High–dose rate brachytherapy in the treatment of carcinoma of uterine cervix: twenty-year experience with cobalt after-loading system

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This retrospective analysis aims to report results of patients with cancer of uterine cervix treated with external-beam radiotherapy (EBR) and high–dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy, using manual treatment planning. From 1975 to 1995, 237 patients with FIGO stages IIB–IVA and mean age of 54.31 years were treated. EBR dose to the whole pelvis was 50 Gy in 25 fractions. Brachytherapy with HDR after-loading cobalt source (Cathetron) was performed following EBR completion with a dose of 30 Gy in three weekly fractions of 10 Gy to point A. Survival, local control, and genitourinary and gastrointestinal complications were assessed. In a median follow-up of 60.2 months, the 10-year overall and disease-free survival rate was 62.4%. Local recurrence was seen in 12.2% of patients. Distant metastases to the lymph nodes, peritoneum, lung, liver, and bone occurred in 25.3% of patients. Less than 6% of patients experienced severe genitourinary and/or gastrointestinal toxicity that were relieved by surgical intervention. No treatment-related mortality was seen. This series suggests that 50 Gy to the whole pelvis together with three fractions of 10 Gy to point A with HDR brachytherapy is an effective fractionation schedule in the treatment of locally advanced cancer of cervix. To decrease the complications, newer devices and treatment planning may be beneficial.

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