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According to an article recently published in the British Journal of Cancer, treatment including either chemotherapy or radiation therapy following surgery provides similar outcomes among patients with early, high-risk uterine cancer.

The uterus, or womb, is located in a woman’s pelvis. Endometrial cancer is the most common type of uterine cancer and refers to the type of cell within the uterus where the cancer originated. Early endometrial cancer refers to cancer that has not spread from the uterus. However, some patients with early endometrial cancer are at a high risk for developing a recurrence. These high-risk patients often have cancer that has spread into the muscular layer of the uterus.

It has not yet been established whether chemotherapy or radiation therapy following surgery provide an improved outcome for women with early, high-risk endometrial cancer. Researchers from Italy recently conducted a trial to directly compare chemotherapy and radiation therapy following surgery among 345 women with high-risk endometrial cancer.

  • There was no improvement in progression-free survival or overall survival between the two groups of patients.
  • At three, five, and seven years, the overall survival rates were 78%, 69%, and 62% for patients treated with radiation therapy, and 76%, 66%, and 62% for those treated with chemotherapy.
  • At three, five, and seven years, the progression-free survival rates were 69%, 63%, and 56% for those treated with radiation therapy, and 68%, 63%, and 60% for those treated with chemotherapy.
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The researchers concluded that there is no difference in outcomes between radiation therapy and chemotherapy following surgery for the treatment of early, high-risk endometrial cancer. The researchers stated that trials comparing radiation plus chemotherapy to radiation therapy alone are ongoing and results are eagerly awaited.

Patients with early, high-risk endometrial cancer may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of either radiation or chemotherapy.

Reference: Maggi R, Lissoni A, Spina F, et al. Adjuvant Chemotherapy Vs Radiotherapy in High-Risk Endometrial Carcinoma: Results of a Randomised Trial. British Journal of Cancer. 2006;95:266-271.