Worldwide, cervical cancer is the third most common cancer in women. In the UK, incidence fell after the introduction of the cervical screening programme, to the current level of approximately 2334 women in 2008, with a mortality to incidence ratio of 0.33. Survival ranges from almost 100% 5-year disease-free survival for treated stage Ia disease to 5–15% in stage IV disease. Survival is also influenced by tumour bulk, age, and comorbid conditions.
Methods and outcomes
We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical questions: What are the effects of interventions to prevent cervical cancer? What are the effects of interventions to manage early-stage cervical cancer? What are the effects of interventions to manage bulky early-stage cervical cancer? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library, and other important databases up to October 2009 (Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically, please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
We found 14 systematic reviews, RCTs, or observational studies that met our inclusion criteria. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions.
In this systematic review we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions: human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine for preventing cervical cancer; conisation of the cervix for microinvasive carcinoma (stage Ia1), conisation of the cervix plus lymphadenectomy (stage Ia2 and low-volume, good prognostic factor stage Ib), radical trachelectomy for low-volume stage Ib disease, neoadjuvant chemotherapy, radiotherapy, chemoradiotherapy, or different types of hysterectomy versus each other for treating early-stage and bulky early-stage cervical cancer.
Worldwide, cervical cancer is the third most common cancer in women.
In the UK, incidence fell after the introduction of the cervical screening programme to the current level of approximately 2334 women in 2008, with a mortality to incidence ratio of 0.33.About 80% of tumours are squamous type, and staging is based on the FIGO classification.Survival ranges from almost 100% 5-year disease-free survival for treated stage Ia disease to 5–15% in stage IV disease. Survival is also influenced by tumour bulk, age, and comorbid conditions.Development of cervical cancer is strongly associated with HPV infection, acquired mainly by sexual intercourse.The peak prevalence of HPV infection is 20–40% in women aged 20 to 30 years, but in 80% of cases the infection resolves within 12 to 18 months.Other risk factors for cervical cancer include early onset of sexual activity, multiple sexual partners, long-term use of oral contraceptives, tobacco smoking, low socioeconomic status, and immunosuppressive therapy.
Vaccination against HPV is effective in preventing certain types of oncogenic HPV infection, and at reducing rates of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, but there has been insufficient long-term follow-up to assess effects on cervical cancer rates.
Conisation with adequate excision margins is considered effective for microinvasive carcinoma (stage Ia1), and can preserve fertility, unlike simple hysterectomy; however, it has been associated with an increased risk of preterm delivery and low birth weight.
Conisation is often performed for stage Ia1 disease, but evidence for its benefit is from observational studies only.
We don’t know how conisation of the cervix with pelvic lymphadenectomy and simple or radical hysterectomy compare with each other for stage Ia2 and low volume stage 1b cervical cancer, as we found no RCTs.
We don’t know how simple hysterectomy plus lymphadenectomy and radical hysterectomy plus lymphadenectomy compare with each other, in early cervical cancer, as we found no RCT evidence.
Limited observational evidence shows that radical trachelectomy plus lymphadenectomy results in similar disease-free survival as radical hysterectomy in women with early-stage cervical cancer; however, we found no RCTs.
Radical trachelectomy plus lymphadenectomy can preserve fertility.
Limited RCT evidence shows that radiotherapy is as effective as surgery in early-stage disease.
Overall and disease-free survival are similar after radiotherapy or radical hysterectomy plus lymphadenectomy, but radiotherapy is less likely to cause severe adverse effects.
Chemoradiotherapy improves survival compared with radiotherapy in women with bulky early-stage cervical cancer.
Combined chemoradiotherapy improves overall and progression-free survival when used either before or after hysterectomy, but is associated with more haematological and gastrointestinal toxicity compared with radiotherapy alone.
The benefits of neoadjuvant chemotherapy plus surgery compared with radiotherapy alone are unknown.