Treatment Of Cervical Cancer

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Published: 10th May 2013
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Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers in women. It affects cervix, which is narrow lower most part of uterus, which connects uterus to vagina. Most of the cervical cancers are caused due to HPV infections. There are many treatment options available for treatment of cervical cancer. Doctors may use surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or combination of all these methods. The method of treatment depends upon the spread of cancer and the size of tumour or abnormal cell growth on the cervix.

For treatment of cervical cancer a patient needs to consult a Cancer specialist (Oncologist). He can diagnose the stage of cancer and depending on that suggest an appropriate course of treatment. Patients are also asked to have a referral before starting the treatment. A gynaecologic oncologist surgeon is a specialist in treating female cancers including cervical cancer. Other specialists related to treatment of cervical cancers are gynaecologists, medical oncologists, and radiation oncologists.

Every method of treatment has its benefits as well as side effects. Doctor will educate the patient about the side effects of the treatment method before hand, so that the patient gets mentally prepared to deal with them. Side effects may vary for each individual patient and can change with each treatment session. Supportive care is also available to relieve the side effects of treatment, pain control and other symptoms arising due to treatment.

Treatment Methods for Cervical Cancer

Each of the treatment method has its own pros and cons. Each method is described in short below-


Surgery is used as a treatment in Stage I or II cervical cancer. The tissues containing cancer cells are removed by surgery. In some patients doctors may need to remove cervix, part of the vagina, and the lymph nodes in the pelvis. Some patients may need removal of the cervix and uterus, whereas some may need removal of the cervix, some tissue around the cervix, the uterus, and part of the vagina. Surgeons may also remove both fallopian tubes and ovaries or the lymph nodes near the tumor as per need to treat cervical cancer. Side effects differ with each kind of surgery. Women may develop sexual problems or have sudden menopause after surgical treatment

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy or Radiotherapy can be used for treatment in any stage of cervical cancer. Mostly patients with early stage of cervical cancer prefer radiation therapy over surgery. Sometimes it is used after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells. In advanced stages of cervical cancer it is used along with chemotherapy. In radiation therapy high-energy rays are used to destroy cancer cells and it affects cells only in the area being treated.

There are two types of radiation therapy for treatment of cervical cancer.

External radiation therapy

: In it radiation is given at pelvis or other tissues where the cancer has spread. Each session takes few minutes.

Internal radiation therapy

: radiation is given through a thin tube, which is placed inside the vagina. A radioactive substance is loaded into the tube, which directs radiation to inner part.

Side effects may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, urinary problems, and loss of hair in genital area, dryness, itching or burning in vagina, redness, dryness or tenderness in skin of area being treated. Most side effects go away with the stoppage of treatment. Though there are some long term effects such as narrowing of vagina or damage to ovaries, in some cases.


Chemotherapy is generally used along with radiation therapy. Cervical cancer, spread to the interior parts of body, is treated by using chemotherapy. In this method chemo drugs are given intravenously to the patient. It kills fast-growing cancer cells. But due to side effects normal cells may also be harmed. Its side effects include skin rashes, hearing problem, loss of balance, tingling or numbness in hands or feet, joints pain or swelling in legs or feet. Chemotherapy may also cause hair loss, poor appetite, nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea, or mouth and lip sores. Most of the side effects go away with the cessation of treatment. It may also lower the healthy blood cells leading to infections, easy bruising or bleeding. In this case the dosages of chemo drugs are reduced and medicines for formation of new blood cells are given to the patient.

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