How Is Cervical Cancer Diagnosed and Treated?
If your doctor says that you have cervical cancer, ask to be referred to a gynecologic oncologist—a doctor who has been trained to treat gynecologic cancers, including cervical cancer. This doctor will work with you to create a treatment plan.
The extent of disease is referred to as the stage. Information about the size of the cancer or how far it has spread is often used to determine the stage. Doctors use this information to plan treatment and to monitor progress.
Cervical cancer is treated in several ways. It depends on the kind of cervical cancer and how far it has spread. Treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
- Surgery: Doctors remove cancer tissue in an operation.
- Chemotherapy: Using special medicines to shrink or kill the cancer. The drugs can be pills you take or medicines given in your veins, or sometimes both.
- Radiation: Using high-energy rays (similar to X-rays) to kill the cancer.
Different treatments may be provided by different doctors on your medical team.
- Gynecologic oncologists are doctors who have been trained to treat gynecologic cancers such as cervical, uterine, ovarian, vaginal, and vulvar cancers.
- Surgeons are doctors who perform operations.
- Medical oncologists are doctors who treat cancer with medicine.
- Radiation oncologists are doctors who treat cancer with radiation.
For more information, visit the National Cancer Institute’s Cervical Cancer Treatment.
Clinical trials use new treatment options to see if they are safe and effective. If you have cancer, you may want to take part. Visit the sites listed below for more information.
- NIH Clinical Research Trials and You (National Institutes of Health)
- Learn About Clinical Trials (National Cancer Institute)
- Search for Clinical Trials (National Cancer Institute)
- ClinicalTrials.gov (National Institutes of Health)
Complementary and alternative medicine are medicines and health practices that are not standard cancer treatments. Complementary medicine is used in addition to standard treatments, and alternative medicine is used instead of standard treatments. Acupuncture and supplements like vitamins and herbs are some examples.
Many kinds of complementary and alternative medicine have not been tested scientifically and may not be safe. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits before you start any kind of complementary or alternative medicine.
Choosing the treatment that is right for you may be hard. Talk to your cancer doctor about the treatment options available for your type and stage of cancer. Your doctor can explain the risks and benefits of each treatment and their side effects. Side effects are how your body reacts to drugs or other treatments.
Sometimes people get an opinion from more than one cancer doctor. This is called a “second opinion.” Getting a second opinion may help you choose the treatment that is right for you.