If you have been diagnosed with cervical cancer, then you might ask your doctor “what are the stages of cervical cancer” to get a better idea of what you’re dealing with. Your doctor should generally conduct some tests to help you stage your cancer. Often, the stage of a cancer will tell a doctor exactly how far it has spread. This is important because your treatment may be decided according to the stage of your cancer. Doctors will use different systems in order to stage different cancers, but the system for cervical cancer will often number the different levels from one to four.
Carcinoma in Situ
Before we look more closely at the answer to the question “what are the stages of cervical cancer?” it’s worth examining a condition known as Carcinoma in Situ. Otherwise known as CIS, this condition means that some of the cells of the cervix have undergone cancerous changes, but the abnormal cells have been largely contained within the surface layers of the cervix. Carcinoma in Situ is not actually cancer but in some women the changes present with this condition can develop into cancer after a number of years. It is important to get cancer as quickly as possible for this condition. Once the affected area has been removed, cancer can then be prevented.
Stage 1 Cervical Cancer
The best place to start when answering the question of “what are the stages of cervical cancer?” is by looking at the first stage. Stage one cervical cancer means that the cancer is located just in the neck of the womb. This form of cervical cancer is often treated through either radiotherapy or surgery. On the other hand, if you have Stage 1B2 cervical cancer, then your doctor might suggest undergoing combined radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
Stage 2 Cervical Cancer
In the case of stage 2 cervical cancer, the cancer will have started to spread throughout the neck of the womb and through surrounding tissues. In this case it should not have grown into the ligaments and muscles around the pelvic wall or lower parts of the vagina. Stage 2A cervical cancer is often treated with surgery and chemotherapy and radiation. On the other hand, Stage 2B cervical cancer may be treated using chemoradiation. Studies have shown that this combined treatment can be very useful in improving the survival rates of people with stage 2 cervical cancer.
Stage 3 Cervical Cancer
When cervical cancer is in the third stage, it has spread away from the womb and into the surrounding structure of the pelvic area. This may mean that it has grown through the ligaments and muscles in the lower spaces of the vagina, as well as the areas that line the pelvic wall. It also may have grown up to damage the tubes that support your kidneys. This stage is often treated with radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
Stage 4 Cervical Cancer
Finally, stage four is the most advanced form of cervical cancer. The cancer will have spread to other body organs beyond the womb and cervix. This stage of cancer can be treated with radiotherapy, surgery, and chemotherapy but it cannot be cured.