Treatment for cervical cancer varies from person to person and how far advanced it is. Cervical cancer is treatable in many cases and a team of medical experts work together to decide the best course of action for each individual, although the final decision remains with the patient. The treatment options for cervical cancer will consider the stage of cancer, whether it is treatable and personal circumstances.
Cervical cancer treatment includes the following or a combination of these options:
Removal of abnormal cells
Cervical cancer screenings can highlight when abnormal cells are present but haven’t become cancerous yet. While cancer is not present the results indicate that a person could be at a higher risk of developing cancer in the future. The removal of abnormal cells aims to prevent this risk. There are a number of ways health professionals can do this, including using laser therapy or removing the abnormal tissue as part of a biopsy.
Chemotherapy can be used alone or in conjunction with other treatment. It can both cure cervical cancer and slow the progression of the disease when it is not treatable. Chemotherapy is usually administered through an IV drip, although there are alternatives, and works by killing the cancerous cells present in the cervix.
Radiotherapy can be combined with both chemotherapy and surgery as well being used as on its own. Radiotherapy works by destroying cells that have become cancerous but it can also damage some of the surrounding healthy tissue. In most cases, patients having this treatment for cervical cancer will have radiotherapy delivered both externally and internally to provide a complete solution.
In some cases of cervical cancer, surgery may be needed to remove the cancerous tissue. The level of surgery required will depend on the stage that the cancer is at and whether or not it has spread. If diagnosed during the very early stages a radical trachelectomy can be performed, this surgery removes the cervix, surrounding tissue and the upper part of the vagina but leaves the womb in place. It’s often an option chosen for women who want to have children in the future.
If the cancer has advanced, then a hysterectomy may be required. This is where the cervix and womb are both removed and, in some cases, the ovaries, and fallopian tubes as well. In rare cases, a pelvic exenteration may be needed but this is usually only if cervical cancer returns after a previous course of treatment. This is a major operation and involves removing the cancer, as well as the bladder, rectum, vagina, and the lower section of the bowel.