London, June 1 (ANI): Survival rates among cervical cancer patients may be improved by as much as 20 per cent by making subtle changes to major surgery, researchers in Germany suggest.
Writing in The Lancet Oncology, University of Leipzig researcher Professor Michael Hockel said that the new more highly targeted surgical technique called mesometrial resection (TMMR) was more effective and resulted in fewer complications.
Cancer Research UK agrees that the technique showed potential.
The new technique removes a specific, more defined, section which includes the fallopian tubes, uterus, and certain parts of the vagina, which the researchers said are the main areas of local tumour spread.
Hockel points out that this surgery mainly aims at preventing damage to nerves in the pelvis, which can cause problems with bladder and bowel function after the operation.
Patients are also spared radiotherapy, which can cause further side-effects.
During a study, 212 patients underwent TMMR between 1998 and 2008. The cancer returned in only 10 patients after 41 months.
The researchers observed that the recurrence rate was just 5per cent even in high-risk patients, compared to the 28 per cent overall recurrence rate seen in similar patients treated with the normal surgery.
They also revealed that the five-year survival in patients with positive lymph-nodes undergoing the new technique was 91 per cent, compared with around 68-78 per cent previously reported with standard surgery.
According to them, 63 per cent of patients did not have any treatment-related complications, and there were no severe complications.
"Based on historical controls, TMMR without adjuvant radiation has the potential to improve survival by 15-20 per cent," the BBC quoted Hockel as saying.
He conceded that it was next needed to conduct larger trials in different hospitals.
"This new surgical technique seems to have the potential to help women with early-stage cervical cancer avoid some of the unpleasant long-term effects of a hysterectomy and radiotherapy," Liz Woolf, head of Cancer Research UK's patient information website CancerHelp UK, said.
"While curing cancer must be the priority, it's important to do everything possible to improve the quality of life for women after cervical cancer treatment.
"But it will take time to confirm these results in larger trials, and then - if the technique is effective - to bring it into surgical training and practice across the UK," Woolf added. (ANI)