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Cervical cancer treatment options include surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or combinations of these.
Deciding on the kind of treatment depends on several factors, such as the stage of the cancer, as well as age and overall state of health.
Treatment for early-stage cervical cancer, when the cancer remains within the cervix, has a good success rate. The further a cancer spreads from its original area, the lower the success rate tends to be.
Surgery is a common treatment method when the cancer has not spread from the cervix. Radiation therapy may help after surgery if a doctor believes that cancer cells might be present inside the body.
Radiation therapy may also reduce the risk of recurrence (cancer coming back). If the surgeon wants to shrink the tumor to make it easier to operate, the person may receive chemotherapy although this is not a very common approach.
Treatment for advanced cervical cancer
When the cancer has spread beyond the cervix, surgery is not usually an option.
Doctors also refer to advanced cancer as invasive cancer, because it has invaded other areas of the body. This type of cancer requires more extensive treatment, which will typically involve either radiation therapy or a combination of radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
In the later stages of cancer, healthcare professionals provide palliative therapy to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life.
Some doctors refer to radiation therapy as radiation oncology or XRT.
It involves the use of beams of high-energy X-rays or radiation to destroy cancer cells.
When the treating doctor aims radiation at the pelvic area, it may cause the following side effects, some of which may not emerge until after the treatment is over:
•narrowing of the vagina
•interrupted menstrual cycle
Chemotherapy is the use of chemicals (medication) to treat any disease. In this context, it refers to the destruction of cancer cells.
Doctors use chemotherapy to target cancer cells that surgery cannot or did not remove, or to help the symptoms of people with advanced cancer.
The side effects of chemotherapy can vary, and they depend on the specific drug. More common side effects include: