Treatment of women over 65 years old with cervical cancer
What are the different treatment options for cervical cancer?
What’s interesting about cervical cancer is that disease can be approached in different ways and it’s fine. So a woman with early stage cervical cancer could undergo treatment surgically with removal of the uterus and cervix or she can undergo non-surgical therapy with chemotherapy and radiation. What we were interested in looking at was whether age was associated with one versus the other.
What has your research shown?
I believe if you’re presenting or treating a woman over 65 that it’s going to be very important you consider both the age as well as the physical status when you’re approaching treatments but I think our data lends support to a non-surgical yet curative approach to the older woman with cervical cancer.
In your study, was there much difference if people had surgery or not?
It appeared to be very striking and this was actually a surprise to me. The women who underwent surgery specifically appeared to have worse outcomes in terms of both all-cause mortality as well as disease-specific mortality. Specifically, women over 65 treated with surgery had almost a sevenfold higher risk of dying which was statistically significant. Their cancer-specific mortality was threefold higher but the range on that was high so it was not statistically significant. But I think a threefold higher risk of death is clinically significant.
Does your study show who should have surgery?
I believe our data also suggests that with our curative approaches we need to consider what else is going on in that woman’s life. The fact that surgery was associated with such a high risk of all-cause mortality is telling because that means these women were dying of causes other than their cervical cancer.
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