Cervical Cancer Treatments

Treatment for cervical cancer will depend on the individual patient and the stage of the cancer. Surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation may be utilized for treatment.

When detected at an early stage, invasive cervical cancer is one of the most successfully treatable cancers with a five-year survival rate of 92 percent for localized cancers (those that have not spread to other organs). 

Treatment for early cervical cancer may include:

  • Radical hysterectomy, which removes the uterus, cervix, surrounding tissues (parametria), and upper part of the vagina. Learn more about radical pelvic/reconstructive surgery. Our surgeons may suggest fertility sparing surgery, if possible, depending on whether it is right for you.
  • Lymphadenectomy is the removal of lymph nodes to determine if the cancer has spread.
  • Combination chemotherapy and radiationmay be recommended for cervical cancers where the size or spread of the tumor is not appropriate for surgical removal.
  • Treatment for metastatic cervical cancer(spread outside the pelvis) involves chemotherapy. 

Fertility Sparing Surgeries

Our surgeons may offer the option of fertility sparing surgery if it is appropriate for you. The gynecologic oncologists at MedStar Washington Hospital Center specialize in fertility sparing surgeries, which treat the cancer, and leave the uterus in place, so the possibility of having a baby in the future remains. 

Radiation and Chemotherapy for Cervical Cancer

Radiation may be used to treat larger tumors or cancer that has returned. Radiation therapy is either external or internal.

  • Internal radiation therapyuses a device which is placed inside the woman's vagina to deliver the radiation directly to the tumor. The device is removed before she goes home.
  • External radiation therapybeams radiation from a large machine into the body where the cancer is located. It looks similar to an X-ray machine.

Chemotherapy is delivered into the blood via an IV and uses drugs to kill cancer.

Some types of cervical cancer do not respond well to treatment. The cancer may come back after treatment. Therefore it is important to continue to followup with your doctors after you have completed treatment.

Recurrent Cervical Cancer Treatment with Total Pelvic Extenteration 

Exenteration is an extensive surgery in which the organs of the pelvis, including the bladder and rectum, are removed. A new bladder and rectum are made. This procedure is performed on women who have recurrent cervical cancer, meaning the cancer has returned after treatment. Exenteration is performed only in cases where the recurrent disease is limited to the pelvis. The good news is that 50 percent of patients who have exenteration are cured with the procedure.

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