The findings suggest that some women with stage IIIb cervical cancer, an advanced form of the disease, should receive aggressive therapies or treatment for pain control and comfort. Anurag K. Singh, M.D., radiation oncology resident at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, presented the findings Oct. 7 at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology's annual meeting in New Orleans. Singh is first author on the paper; the senior author is Perry W. Grigsby, M.D., professor of radiation oncology at the School of Medicine's Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology.
"These findings are important because they mean we can design future studies to provide patients with different treatments based on the extent of their disease as shown on a whole-body PET scan," says Singh.
The retrospective study found that women with clinical stage IIIb cervical cancer fell into four distinct groups on the basis of PET scans. Women whose cancer had not spread to the lymph nodes had the highest rates of survival, followed by women with cancer cells in the pelvic lymph nodes only. Those whose tumors had spread to lymph nodes in the upper abdomen had poor survival, and those whose cancer had spread to lymph nodes in the upper chest usually died within months of diagnosis.
The American Cancer Society estimates that 13,000 new cases of cervical cancer will occur in 2002 in the United States and 4,100 will die from the disease. Because of mass screening programs, the prevalence of cervical cancer in the United States and other developed countries is generally low compared with developing countries, where the disease is a leading cause of cancer death among women.
Contact: Darrell E. Ward
Washington University School of Medicine