Primary pelvic exenteration in cervical cancer patients

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Despite the reports of a number of leading institutions concerning the use of primary exenteration, there are differences in regard to definition, indications, and interpretation of results of this treatment approach to cervical cancer. In this paper we present our own experience with 41 cervical cancer patients treated with primary exenteration at St. Stephen Hospital Budapest. We explore some important unsettled aspects (definition, indications, and quality of life consequences) of this treatment modality in view of our own experience and the literature. Between January 1993 and June 2006, 2540 invasive cervical cancer patients were seen at the gynecologic oncology service of the St. Stephens Hospital Budapest. Two hundred twelve (8%) of these patients were surgically explored with the plan of an exenterative surgery. Exenteration was the primary treatment in 41 (25%) of 166 completed exenterations; these 41 cases included 2 cases of supralevator total exenteration, 9 cases of supralevator anterior exenteration, and 30 cases of partial supralevator anterior exenteration. In the 2 total exenteration patients, anal function was restored with a low rectal anastomosis, with a temporary defunctioning colostomy in 1 patient. Urethral function was restored in 9 out of 11 supralevator exenteration cases with the Budapest pouch bladder replacement technique. In the remaining 2 cases, a Bricker conduit was used for urinary diversion. There was no operation-related mortality in this cohort of patients. An external fecal or urinary stoma was avoided in 38 (93%) out of the 41 primary exenteration patients; in 1 patient a temporary defunctioning colostomy was used; and in 2 patients a permanent ileal conduit was created. In 9 patients (22%), complications (ileus and peritonitis, occlusion of the femoral artery, stricture of the implanted ureter, and postoperative ureterovaginal fistula) necessitated surgical intervention. A quality of life study revealed the need for prolonged self-catheterization, partial (mainly night time) incontinence, and lymphedema in 7 patients. We consider and suggest that an en bloc resection of part(s) of the urinary bladder and/or the rectum with the uterine cervix should be considered an exenteration (partial exenteration). A 50% survival rate of a select group of stage IVA cervical cancer patients treated with primary exenteration can be considered significant, but cannot be considered superior to that of chemoradiation therapy. The same applies when considering treatment-related mortality and complications that require operative interventions. Low rectal anastomosis and orthotopic bladder replacement with a relative low risk of fistula formation in non-irradiated patients constitute a strong quality of life argument in favor of primary exenteration in a select group of stage IVA cervical cancer patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S9-S12
JournalGynecologic Oncology
Issue number2 SUPPL.
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2008


  • Complication
  • Indication
  • Primary cervical cancer
  • Primary pelvic exenteration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology

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