Palliative interventions for controlling vaginal bleeding in advanced cervical cancer.

Dr Ahizechukwu C Eke, MD, MPH, FWACS
Dr Ahizechukwu C Eke, MD, MPH, FWACS
Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine & Clinical Pharmacology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 600 N Wolfe Street
Maternal Fetal Medicine
Baltimore, Maryland | United States

Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2015 May 1(5):CD011000. Epub 2015 May 1.

Effective Care Research Unit, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Faculty of Medicine, College of Health Sciences, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Nnewi Campus, PMB 5001, Nnewi, Anambra State, Nigeria.

Background: Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among women worldwide, with around 500,000 new diagnoses and 273,000 deaths per year. However, incidence and stage at diagnosis vary greatly between geographic areas and are largely dependent on the availability of a robust population screening programme. For example, in Nigeria, advanced-stage disease at presentation is common (86% to 89.3% of new cases), whereas in the UK, only 21.9% of women present with International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) stage II+ disease. Women with advanced cancer of the cervix often need palliation for distressing symptoms, such as vaginal bleeding. Vaginal bleeding can be life threatening in advanced disease, with an incidence ranging from 0.7% to 100%. Bleeding is the immediate cause of death in 6% of women with cervical cancer and its management often poses a challenge.Thus, vaginal bleeding remains a common consequence of advanced cervical cancer. Currently, there is no systematic review that addresses palliative interventions for controlling vaginal bleeding caused by advanced cervical cancer. A systematic evaluation of the available palliative interventions is needed, to inform decision-making.

Objectives: To evaluate the efficacy and safety of tranexamic acid, vaginal packing (with or without formalin-soaked packs), interventional radiology or other interventions compared with radiotherapy for palliative treatment of vaginal bleeding in women with advanced cervical cancer.

Search Methods: We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), Issue 2, 2015; the Cochrane Gynaecological Cancer Group Trials Register; MEDLINE from 1980 to March week 3, 2015 and EMBASE from 1980 to February week 12, 2015. We also searched registers of clinical trials, abstracts of scientific meetings and reference lists of review articles and contacted experts in the field. We handsearched citation lists of relevant studies.

Selection Criteria: We searched for randomised and non-randomised comparative studies that evaluated the efficacy and safety of tranexamic acid, vaginal packing (with or without formalin-soaked packs), interventional radiology or other interventions compared with radiotherapy techniques for palliative treatment of vaginal bleeding in women with advanced cervical cancer (with or without metastasis), irrespective of publication status, year of publication or language in the review.

Data Collection And Analysis: Two review authors independently assessed whether potentially relevant studies met the inclusion criteria. We found no studies were identified for inclusion and, therefore, we analysed no data.

Main Results: The search strategy identified 1335 unique references of which 1160 were excluded on the basis of title and abstract. We retrieved the remaining 22 articles in full, but none satisfied the inclusion criteria. We identified only observational data from single-arm studies of women treated with formalin-soaked packs, interventional radiology or radiotherapy techniques for palliative control of vaginal bleeding in women with cervical cancer.

Authors' Conclusions: There is no evidence from controlled trials to support or refute the use of any of the proposed interventions compared with radiotherapy. Therefore, the choice of intervention will be based on local resources. Radiotherapy techniques for managing vaginal bleeding are not readily available in resource-poor settings, where advanced cases of cervical cancer are predominant. Thus, this systematic review identified the need for a randomised controlled trial assessing the benefits and risks of palliative treatments for vaginal bleeding in women with advanced cervical cancer.

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May 2015
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