Cervical Cancer Treatment

Make an Appointment

Cervical cancer treatment options include:

  • Laser surgery
  • Cryosurgery
  • Conization
  • Pelvic exteneration
  • Pelvic lymph node removal
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation
  • Brachytherapy
  • Targeted therapy
  • Hysterectomy

Sometimes, you'll need a combination of these treatments. Which treatment makes sense for you depends on your stage of cancer. We'll also take into consideration your health and reproductive situation.

Cervical Cancer & Fertility

Talk to your doctor before treatment if:

  • You are or think you may be pregnant. Treatment can affect the fetus, leading to birth defects. Pregnancy can change or delay planned treatment. You may need birth control until after treatment.
  • You plan on having children. Some forms of treatment can damage your fertility. We may have ways to preserve it.

Precancer Treatments

We can remove precancerous cells. We sometimes call this stage 0 cervical cancer. These procedures can prevent cells from becoming cancer.

Laser Surgery

We use a laser beam to heat and kills abnormal cells. This intense, narrow beam of light removes the abnormal cells from the cervix.

Cryosurgery

Cryosurgery freezes off abnormal cells. We apply nitrogen or carbon dioxide liquid to a probe. We then insert the probe through your vagina. Then we put the substance on your cervix.

Conization

Conization removes a cone-shaped piece of tissue from the cervix. It uses a scalpel, cold knife, laser beam, or loop electrosurgery (LEEP). The LEEP procedure uses a thin wire heated by an electric current.

After we remove the tissue, we can see if the margins around the sample are clear of any abnormal cells. Then we can tell if you need more treatment.

Early-Stage Cervical Cancer Treatment

Chemotherapy uses drugs to destroy cervical cancer cells. The drugs enter the bloodstream and travel through the body to the cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be used:

  • Before surgery to shrink the tumor and decrease the amount of tissue we have to remove
  • In combination with radiation therapy to decrease tumor size
  • To help relieve symptoms of metastatic cancer
  • To extend survival time

Targeted Therapy

We have medications that can seek out and destroy cancer cells. They can also kill systems that support the cancer cells. One drug used for cervical cancer stops the growth of new blood vessels that enhance tumor growth. 

Side effects of targeted therapy can be serious and may include:

  • Bleeding
  • Blood clots
  • Problems with wound healing
  • An abnormal connection between the vagina and intestine (fistula)

Surgery for Advanced Cervical Cancer

Pelvic Exenteration

If your cancer comes back or spreads to nearby organs, you'll need major surgery. We may need to remove organs from your reproductive and digestive systems. This could include your vagina, bladder, rectum, or lower part of the colon.

Pelvic Lymph Node Dissection

Cancer can spread to the lymph nodes located in the pelvic region outside of the uterus. Once there, it can travel to other parts of the body through the lymphatic system. During surgery, we'll remove some or all lymph nodes suspected of having cancer. We'll then examine the nodes under a microscope.

Radiation Therapy

External Beam Radiation

A machine outside your body produces radiation. The machine directs short bursts of X-rays at the cancer. Generally, this type of radiation therapy lasts 5 days per week for 5-6 weeks. At the end of this cervical cancer treatment, the tumor site often gets an extra dose of radiation.

Brachytherapy

Brachytherapy delivers high-dose radiation to the cancer cells. We place a capsule with radioactive materials into the cervix. We can also put a capsule in the vagina against the outside of the cervix.

This capsule stays in place for 1-3 days. You can have this treatment repeated several days over the course of 1-2 weeks.

You might need to stay in the hospital while the capsules work. You could also take radiation delivery in minutes instead of days. This gets rid of the need for a hospital stay.

Chemotherapy & Chemoradiation

Chemotherapy uses drugs to destroy cervical cancer cells. The drugs enter your bloodstream. They then travel through the body to the cancer cells. You might get chemotherapy:

  • Before surgery — to shrink the tumor and decrease the amount of tissue we need to remove
  • In combination with radiation therapy to decrease tumor size
  • To help relieve symptoms of metastatic cancer and extend survival time

You get chemotherapy through an IV. Sometimes you can take it by mouth. You get treatment in 4-6 cycles over a set period of time.

Concurrent Chemoradiation

This procedure consists of radiation and chemo given together. This combination can take up to 10 cycles of treatment.

Recovering from Cervical Cancer

Your chance of recovery depends on:

  • Your age and general health
  • Whether you have a certain type of HPV
  • The stage of the cancer
  • The type of cervical cancer
  • The size of the tumor

 

Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.