Cervical cancer: hydroxyurea and radiotherapy, systematic review and aggregate data meta-analysis

Concomitant hydroxyurea plus radiotherapy versus radiotherapy for carcinoma of the uterine cervix: a systematic review

Can a drug called hydroxyurea help women with cervical cancer to live longer?

What was this study about?

Cervical cancer is the second most common type of cancer in women worldwide. Women of all ages can get it, but it is more common in women of 30 to 40 years old. When the tumour is very small, doctors can remove it by taking out the cervix, womb and fallopian tubes in an operation called a simple hysterectomy. If the tumour is bigger, women might either have a bigger and more complicated operation called a radical hysterectomy to make sure that all of the cancer is removed, or they might have radiotherapy (treatment with x-rays). Some women who have radiotherapy also get chemotherapy (drug treatment).

We did a systematic review and meta analysis looking at a treatment with the drug hydroxyurea for women with cervical cancer which had not spread to other parts of their body. The aim of this study was to find out whether giving these women a drug called hydroxyurea alongside radiotherapy could help them to live longer? This study brought together information about women who took part in similar randomised controlled trials. These trials compared what happened to women who were given hydroxyurea alongside radiotherapy with women who had radiotherapy alone.

What difference did this study make?

This study found no continuing or good evidence to suggest that women who were given hydroxyurea as well as radiotherapy lived longer than those who only had radiotherapy. The drug should probably not be used with radiotherapy for women with cervical cancer.

Symonds RP, Collingwood M, Kirwan J, Humber CE, Tierney JF, Green JA, et al. Concomitant hydroxyurea plus radiotherapy versus radiotherapy for carcinoma of the uterine cervix: a systematic review. Cancer Treatment Reviews. 2004;30:405-14

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Who funded the study?

Medical Research Council UK, NHS R&D UK, MacMillan Cancer Relief UK, University of Liverpool UK and University of Leicester UK

When did it take place?

This study was published in 2004. The study brought together 8 trials from all over the world. The trials included were done between 1970 and 1989.

Where did it take place?

The study was carried in the UK, but brought together results of trials from around the world.

Who was included?

Women with cervical cancer who took part in randomised controlled trials comparing what happened to those who were given hydroxyurea and radiotherapy to those that did not. This study brought together the results of 8 randomised controlled trials.