Chemotherapy and molecular targeting therapy for recurrent cervical cancer

Naotake Tsuda, Hidemichic Watari, Kimio Ushijima


For patients with primary stage IVB, persistent, or recurrent cervical cancer, chemotherapy remains the standard treatment, although it is neither curative nor associated with long-term disease control. In this review, we summarized the history of treatment of recurrent cervical cancer, and the current recommendation for chemotherapy and molecular targeted therapy. Eligible articles were identified by a search of the MEDLINE bibliographical database for the period up to November 30, 2014. The search strategy included the following any or all of the keywords: “uterine cervical cancer”, “chemotherapy”, and “targeted therapies”. Since cisplatin every 21 days was considered as the historical standard treatment for recurrent cervical cancer, subsequent trials have evaluated and demonstrated activity for other agents including paclitaxel, gemcitabine, topotecan and vinorelbine among others. Accordingly, promising agents were incorporated into phase III trials. To examine the best agent to combine with cisplatin, several landmark phase III clinical trials were conducted by Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG) and Japan Clinical Oncology Group (JCOG). Through, GOG204 and JCOG0505, paclitaxel/cisplatin (TP) and paclitaxel/carboplatin (TC) are now considered to be the recommended therapies for recurrent cervical cancer patients. However, the prognosis of patients who are already resistant to chemotherapy, are very poor. Therefore new therapeutic strategies are urgently required. Molecular targeted therapy will be the most hopeful candidate of these strategies. From the results of GOG240, bevacizumab combined with TP reached its primary endpoint of improving overall survival (OS). Although, the prognosis for recurrent cervical cancer patients is still poor, the results of GOG240 shed light on the usefulness of molecular target agents to chemotherapy in cancer patients. Recurrent cervical cancer is generally considered incurable and current chemotherapy regiments offer only modest gains in OS, particularly for patients with multiple poor prognostic factors. Therefore, it is crucial to consider not only the survival benefit, but also the minimization of treatment toxicity, and maximization of quality of life (QOL).