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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Cancer of the Cervix: Treatment & Monitoring
      Category : Health Centers > Cancers and Tumors

Cancer of the Cervix

Alternate Names : Cervical Cancer, Cervical Tumor, Cervical Carcinoma

Cancer of the Cervix | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

What are the treatments for the disease?

If cancer of the cervix is diagnosed early, the cancer may be removed surgically. Options for surgical removal include the following:

  • cone biopsy, a procedure in which a portion of the center of the cervix is removed. This procedure is also used to diagnose the cancer. During the diagnostic cold cone biopsy, the cancer is often completely removed.
  • hysterectomy, or surgical removal of the uterus and cervix
  • Cancer is more likely to come back in a woman treated with cone biopsy.

    If the cancer has invaded deeper layers of the cervix and has spread to the uterus, more extensive treatment may be involved, such as the following:

  • modified radical hysterectomy. During this type of surgery, the uterus, cervix, upper vagina, and surrounding tissue are removed. Depending on the extent of the cancer and a woman's age, the ovaries may be left in place.
  • radiation therapy, which is sometimes used before or after surgery to shrink the tumor cells further
  • radiation therapy and chemotherapy together. Sometimes a woman isn't a good candidate for surgery, because of her age or other medical conditions. In this instance, radiation therapy may be used alone or with chemotherapy.
  • biological response modifiers, BRMs, which are substances that help to help strengthen the immune system's fight against cancer or infection. Interferon is a BRM that is sometimes used in treatment of cervical cancer, often in combination with chemotherapy.
  • What are the side effects of the treatments?

    Possible side effects and complications of hysterectomy are as follows:

  • inability to control urination
  • sexual problems
  • psychological stress
  • swelling in the legs
  • bleeding that requires a blood transfusion
  • allergic reaction to anesthesia
  • Chemotherapy and radiation therapy may cause a wide variety of side effects, including hair loss, fatigue, decreased ability to fight infections, and nausea.

    Biological response modifiers such as interferon may cause flu-like symptoms, including body aches, nausea, and fatigue.

    What happens after treatment for the disease?

    The outcome for a woman with cervical cancer depends on many factors, such as the following:

  • the woman's overall health
  • the woman's age when she was first diagnosed
  • the type and growth of specific cancer cells
  • how far the disease has spread
  • the skill of the surgeon
  • After treatment, the chance that a woman will live for 5 more years depends on the stage of the cancer. Survival rates for the various stages are as follows:

  • stage 1, 80% to 85%
  • stage 2, 50% to 65%
  • stage 3, 30% to 40%
  • stage 4, less than 12%
  • How is the disease monitored?

    After treatment, a woman will be closely followed for signs that the cancer of the cervix has come back.

  • A pelvic exam and Pap smear, if the cervix is intact, will be done every 3 months for at least 2 years and then every 6 months after that.
  • Because cancer tends to come back at the same spot or spread to the lungs and liver, chest X-rays and liver function tests are done once a year.
  • If a woman has had a hysterectomy, the top of the vagina is cuffed, or closed. Colposcopy may be done at follow-up visits to examine the vaginal cuff.
  • Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider.

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    Cancer of the Cervix: Prevention & Expectations


    Author: Eva Martin, MD
    Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 07/16/01

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