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Technological advances in radiotherapy for cervical cancer

Walsh, Lorraine; Morgia, Marita; Fyles, Anthony; Milosevic, Michael

doi: 10.1097/CCO.0b013e3283499d93
Gynecologic cancer: Edited by Martin Gore

Purpose of review To discuss the important technological advances that have taken place in the planning and delivery of both external beam radiotherapy and brachytherapy for patients with locally advanced cervical cancer, and the implications for improved clinical outcomes.

Recent findings Technological advances in external beam radiation treatment and brachytherapy for patients with cervical cancer allow more precise targeting of tumour and relative sparing of surrounding normal organs and tissues. Early evidence is emerging to indicate that these advances will translate into improvements in tumour control and reduced side effects. However, there are patient, tumour and treatment-related factors that can detract from these benefits. Foremost among these is complex, unpredictable and sometimes dramatic internal tumour and normal organ motion during treatment. The focus of current research and clinical development is on tracking internal anatomic change in individual patients and adapting treatment plans as required to assure that optimal tumour coverage and normal tissue sparing is maintained at all times. The success of this approach will depend on clear definitions of target volumes, high resolution daily soft tissue imaging, and new software tools for rapid contouring, treatment planning and quality assurance.

Summary Radiation treatment of locally advanced cervical cancer is evolving rapidly, driven by advances in technology, towards more individualized patient care that has the potential to substantially improve clinical outcomes.

Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Toronto and Radiation Medicine Program, Princess Margaret Hospital/University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Correspondence to Dr Michael Milosevic, Radiation Medicine Program, Princess Margaret Hospital, 610 University Avenue, Toronto, ON M5G 2M9, CanadaTel: +416 946 6513; fax: +416 945 2777; e-mail:

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.