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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1999 Jul 1;44(4):855-66.

Radiation therapy morbidity in carcinoma of the uterine cervix: dosimetric and clinical correlation.

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Radiation Oncology Center, Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, Washington University Medical Center, St. Louis, MO 63108, USA.



To quantitate the impact of total doses of irradiation, dose rate, and ratio of doses to bladder or rectum and point A on sequelae in patients treated with irradiation alone for cervical cancer.


Records were reviewed of 1456 patients (Stages IB-IVA) treated with external-beam irradiation plus two low-dose rate intracavitary insertions to deliver 70 to 90 Gy to point A. Follow-up was obtained in 98% of patients (median, 11 years; minimum, 3 years; maximum, 30 years). The relationships among various dosimetry parameters and Grade 2 or 3 sequelae were analyzed.


In Stage IB, the frequency of patients developing Grade 2 morbidity was 9%, and Grade 3 morbidity, 5%; in Stages IIA, IIB, III, and IVA, Grade 2 morbidity was 10% to 12% and Grade 3 was 10%. The most frequent Grade 2 sequelae were cystitis and proctitis (0.7% to 3%). The most common Grade 3 sequelae were vesicovaginal fistula (0.6% to 2% in patients with Stage I-III tumors), rectovaginal fistula (0.8% to 3%), and intestinal obstruction (0.8% to 4%). In the bladder, doses below 80 Gy correlated with less than 3% incidence of morbidity and 5% with higher doses (p = 0.31). In the rectosigmoid, the incidence of significant morbidity was less than 4% with doses below 75 Gy and increased to 9% with higher doses. For the small intestine, the incidence of morbidity was less than 1% with 50 Gy or less, 2% with 50 to 60 Gy, and 5% with higher doses to the lateral pelvic wall (p = 0.04). When the ratio of dose to the bladder or rectum in relation to point A was 0.8 or less, the incidence of rectal morbidity was 2.5% (8 of 320) vs. 7.3% (80 of 1095) with higher ratios (p < or = 0.01); bladder morbidity was 2.3% (7 of 305) and 5.8% (64 of 1110), respectively (p = 0.02). The incidence of Grade 2 and 3 bladder morbidity was 2.9% (10 of 336) when the dose rate was less than 0.80 Gy/h, in contrast to 6.1% (62 of 1010) with higher dose rates (p = 0.07). Rectal morbidity was 2% to 5% in Stage IB, regardless of dose rate to the rectum; in Stages IIA-B and III, morbidity was 5.2% (28 of 539) with a dose rate of 0.80 Gy or less and 10.7% (37 of 347) with higher dose rates (p < 0.01). Multivariate analysis showed that dose to the rectal point was the only factor influencing rectosigmoid sequelae, and dose to the bladder point affected bladder morbidity.


Various dosimetric parameters correlate closely with the incidence of significant morbidity in patients treated with definitive irradiation for carcinoma of the uterine cervix. Careful dosimetry and special attention to related factors will reduce morbidity to the lowest possible level without compromising pelvic tumor control.

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