Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers of the female reproductive organs. The human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection, causes most cases of cervical cancer.
If a Pap smear is abnormal, the doctor does a colposcopy, an examination of the cervix, using a magnifying lens, and a biopsy, taking a small sample of tissue to determine whether cancer is present. If cancer is found, other tests may be done to determine the best treatment. Cervical cancer is classified based on the development of the disease. The stages are:
- Stage 0 or carcinoma in situ — a preinvasive cancer. Abnormal cells are found only in the first layer of cells that line the cervix.
- Stage I — cancer confined to the cervix. It is further classified into four stages (IA1, IA2, IB1, IB2) depending on the size of the tumor and how deeply the cancer has invaded the tissue.
- Stage II — cancer that has spread beyond the uterus, but not to the pelvic sidewall or the upper third of the vagina. Such cancer may be Stage IIA or IIB.
- Stage III — cervical cancer that extends to the pelvic wall or the lower third of the vagina or causes expansion of the ureter resulting in kidney problems. It is further classified as IIIA or IIIB based on whether cancer cells have extended to the pelvic sidewall.
- Stage IV— the cancer has invaded the bladder or rectum and/or extends beyond the pelvis. It may be Stage IVA or IVB.
We develop an individual treatment plan with each patient. For patients with cervical cancer, our team of doctors will consider the disease and other factors, such as age, desire to have children, and general health, to help choose the best treatment for them. Surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or a combination of these may be used to treat cervical cancer. Patients may also have the opportunity to participate in clinical trials, studies of new medications and other treatments.