There are a few treatment options for cervical cancer, depending on how far the cancer has spread, age and what other health conditions a person has.
A cone biopsy is an operation that removes a cone-shaped part of the cervix which has the cancer. This is only done when the cancer is very early and a woman wishes to have children in the future. Sometimes the whole cervix is removed. This is called a trachelectomy.
In most cases of cervical cancer, hysterectomy is the main form of treatment. This is an operation to remove the cervix and uterus and often the fallopian tubes and ovaries. If the cancer is very early this is all that is required. The lymph nodes near the cervix will be checked carefully and if these lymph nodes have cancer cells in them, the woman will also be treated with radiation therapy.
A radical hysterectomy is the name given to an operation where the tissue around the cervix and the lymph nodes in the pelvis are removed. This surgery can have complications such as infection and bleeding, but there is a good chance that the woman will be cured of her cancer.
Radiation treatment is very useful for women with cervical cancer. There are different types of radiation used.
- Brachytherapy is used before surgery to decrease the size of the cancer and to increase the chances of surgery removing all the cancer. A type of radiation is used which only travels a very short distance so is used to treat the cancer cells in the main part of the cancer or the primary tumour.
- External bean radiotherapy is used to treat a wider area, and is used to treat the cells which may have travelled into the lymphatic system or the metastases.
Chemotherapy is being used to treat cervical cancer more often than before. Several drugs have been shown to be effective in killing cancer cells. Chemotherapy is sometimes used before surgery and sometimes after surgery.