NEW ORLEANS – Use of minimally invasive radical hysterectomy to treat early-stage cervical cancer has grown over the past decade, and in current U.S. practice, roughly half of these cases are done with a minimally-invasive approach, with the rest done by conventional laparotomy. But the first data ever reported from a large, prospective trial that compared the efficacy of both methods for cervical cancer had the unexpected finding that disease-free survival following minimally invasive procedures significantly lagged behind radical hysterectomies done by open laparotomy, , said at the annual meeting of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology.
Just after this report came results from a second study that used propensity score–adjusted observational data from the National Cancer Databasend found significantly worse overall survival following minimally invasive radical hysterectomy for early-stage cervical cancer, compared with laparotomy, said , a gynecologic oncologist at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
Both findings were “very surprising,” said Dr. Rauh-Hain in a video interview. “I was pretty sure we’d see no difference” in outcomes between minimally invasive radical hysterectomies and the same surgery either done by laparoscope or robotically assisted.
Prior prospective comparisons of minimally invasive and open surgical methods for other cancer types, including endometrial, gastric, and ovarian, showed no differences in cancer recurrences and survival, which led to widening use of minimally invasive surgery (MIS) for cervical cancer despite no direct evidence supporting equivalence, Dr. Rauh-Hain noted. “We adopted it with no data. It made sense that cervical cancer would be the same as endometrial cancer,” he explained.
The Laparoscopic Approach to Cervical Cancer () trial ran at 33 centers in 12 countries, including six U.S. centers. The study randomized women during 2008-2017 who had stage 1A1, 1A2, or 1B1 cervical cancer to either MIS or open surgery for a radical hysterectomy. Each participating center had to submit to a trial review committee full case records for 10 patients and unedited surgical videos of two patients who had previously undergone a minimally invasive radical hysterectomy at the center to document local prowess with MIS.
Dr. Ramirez and his colleagues designed LACC to prove the noninferiority of MIS and calculated an expected enrollment of 740 patients based on statistical expectations, but the study stopped early after enrolling 631 patients because of the adverse outcomes identified in the MIS patients, with a median follow-up of 2.5 years instead of the planned follow-up of 4.5 years. The study reached the 4.5-year follow-up in about 39% of patients. Of the 312 patients randomized to undergo laparotomy, 88% actually underwent the surgery; of the 319 patients randomized to MIS, 91% received this surgery, with 16% of the MIS procedures done using robotic assistance.
The study’s primary endpoint was disease-free survival at 4.5 years, which occurred in 86% of the MIS patients and in 96.5% of the laparotomy patients, a difference that failed to meet the study’s prespecified definition of noninferiority for MIS, reported Dr. Ramirez, a professor of gynecologic oncology and director of Minimally Invasive Surgery Research and Education at the MD Anderson Cancer Center. In addition, several secondary analyses of the data all showed starkly superior outcomes in the laparotomy subgroup.