Making an educated treatment decision begins with the stage, or progression, of the disease. The stage of cervical cancer is one of the most important factors in evaluating treatment options.
Our cancer doctors use a variety of diagnostic tests to evaluate cervical cancer and develop an individualized treatment plan. If you have been recently diagnosed, we will review your pathology to confirm you have received the correct diagnosis and staging information, and develop a personalized treatment plan. If you have a recurrence, we will perform comprehensive testing and identify a treatment approach that is suited to your needs.
Cervical cancer is staged using the TNM system:
T (tumor): This describes the size of the original tumor.
N (node): This indicates whether the cancer is present in the lymph nodes.
M (metastasis): This refers to whether cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
Once the T, N and M scores have been determined, an overall cervical cancer stage is assigned.
Stage I (stage 1 cervical cancer): In stage I cervical cancer, the cancer is confined to the cervix, but has not spread beyond it. This stage is further separated into subcategories:
Stage II (stage 2 cervical cancer): Stage II cervical cancer means that the cancer has grown beyond the cervix and uterus but has not reached the walls of the pelvis or the lower part of the vagina. In this stage of cervical cancer, the disease has not spread to lymph nodes or distant sites. Stage II has two additional subcategories:
Stage III (stage 3 cervical cancer): Stage III cervical cancer means that the cancer has spread to the lower part of the vagina or the walls of the pelvis, but not to distant sites. This stage is separated into two subcategories:
Stage IV (stage 4 cervical cancer): In this cervical cancer stage, the disease has spread to nearby organs or other parts of the body. Stage IV is separated into two subcategories:
Symptoms of recurrent cervical cancer vary from patient to patient. Signs and symptoms of local cervical cancer recurrence may include:
Signs and symptoms of distant cervical cancer recurrence may include:
Follow-up appointments with your oncologist may help detect cervical cancer relapse early. Your doctor may ask you about symptoms or problems that you may be experiencing. The doctor may perform a pelvic examination and a Pap smear. Further lab and/or imaging tests may also be necessary.
A number of treatment options are available for cancer that has relapsed, especially when it is detected early. An estimated 35 percent of patients with invasive cervical cancer develop persistent or recurrent disease following treatment. The recurrent cervical cancer rate is lower for those with early-stage disease. Most cancer recurrences occur within two years of treatment.
Next topic: How is cervical cancer diagnosed?