Background: Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide. Gynaecological cancers (i.e. cancers affecting the ovaries, uterus, cervix, vulva and vagina) are among the most common cancers in women. Unfortunately, given the nature of the disease, cancer can recur or progress in some patients. Although the management of early‐stage cancers is relatively straightforward, with lower associated morbidity and mortality, the surgical management of advanced and recurrent cancers (including persistent or progressive cancers) is significantly more complicated, often requiring very extensive procedures. Pelvic exenterative surgery involves removal of some or all of the pelvic organs. Exenterative surgery for persistent or recurrent cancer after initial treatment is difficult and is usually associated with significant perioperative morbidity and mortality. However, it provides women with a chance of cure that otherwise may not be possible. In carefully selected patients, it may also have a place in palliation of symptoms. The biology of recurrent ovarian cancer differs from that of other gynaecological cancers; it is often responsive to chemotherapy and is not included in this review.
Objectives: To evaluate the effectiveness and safety of exenterative surgery versus other treatment modalities for women with recurrent gynaecological cancer, excluding recurrent ovarian cancer (this is covered in a separate review).
Search methods: We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE and EMBASE up to February 2013. We also searched registers of clinical trials, abstracts of scientific meetings and reference lists of clinical guidelines and review articles and contacted experts in the field.
Selection criteria: Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) or non‐randomised studies with concurrent comparison groups that included multivariate analyses of exenterative surgery versus medical management in women with recurrent gynaecological malignancies.
Data collection and analysis: Two review authors independently assessed whether potentially relevant studies met the inclusion criteria. No studies were found; therefore no data were analysed.
Main results: The search strategy identified 1311 unique references, of which seven were retrieved in full, as they appeared to be potentially relevant on the basis of title and abstract. However, all were excluded, as they did not meet the inclusion criteria of the review.
Authors’ conclusions: We found no evidence to inform decisions about exenterative surgery for women with recurrent cervical, endometrial, vaginal or vulvar malignancies. Ideally, a large RCT or, at the very least, well‐designed non‐randomised studies that use multivariate analysis to adjust for baseline imbalances are needed to compare exenterative surgery versus medical management, including palliative care.