Background: Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among women up to 65 years of age and is the most frequent cause of death from gynaecological cancers worldwide. Although surveillance of women after completion of primary treatment for cervical cancer is purported to have an impact on their overall survival (OS), no strictly defined follow‐up protocols are available for these women. Wide diversity in management has been noted in the follow‐up of women who have completed primary treatment for cervical cancer. Traditionally, women treated for cervical cancer undergo routine long‐term, even life‐long, follow‐up. The primary objective of this practice has been to detect and treat recurrence early. This review sets out to systematically evaluate available evidence for the role of different models of follow‐up after cervical cancer and the optimal use of investigations.
Objectives: To evaluate the benefits, harms and costs of different follow‐up protocols for women who have completed primary treatment for cervical cancer.
Search methods: We searched CENTRAL (The Cochrane Library 2013, Issue 1), the Cochrane Gynaecological Cancer Group (CGCG) Trials Register, MEDLINE and EMBASE up to January 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: We searched for randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that compared different follow‐up protocols after primary treatment in women with cervical cancer.
Data collection and analysis: Two review authors independently assessed whether potentially relevant studies met the inclusion criteria. No trials were found, and therefore no data were analysed.
Main results: The search strategy identified 1,377 unique references, of which all were excluded on the basis of title and abstract.
Authors’ conclusions: We found no evidence to inform decisions about different follow‐up protocols after primary treatment for women with cervical cancer. Ideally, a large RCT or, at the very least, well‐designed non‐randomised studies (NRSs) that use multi‐variate analysis to adjust for baseline imbalances are needed to compare these follow‐up protocols. Such studies could include prospective trials conducted to determine the benefits and harms of different follow‐up protocols upon completion of primary treatment for cervical cancer, along with an RCT undertaken to compare predefined follow‐up protocols versus participant‐initiated follow‐up versus no follow‐up until a participant is referred to a gynaecological oncology service after signs or symptoms of recurrence have been identified in the primary care or community setting.