If you’re diagnosed with pre-cancerous cell changes in the cervix (also called dysplasia) then it’s likely that you will be completely cured.
Treatment for more serious pre-cancerous changes, called stage CIN3, will usually involve a cone biopsy in which the doctor will remove a cone-shaped piece of tissue that contains the abnormal cells.
If you’re diagnosed with cervical cancer, then there are a number of different treatments available, including:
Try to gather as much information as possible about your treatment options and don’t be afraid to ask questions. You need good information to make the best decisions for your health.
Your treatment options will vary depending on the size and location of the tumour, as well as your overall health. Remember, everyone is different and your doctor will focus on the best treatment options to suit you.
Treatment for cervical cancer usually involves surgery, but some people may also require radiation therapy, chemotherapy and/or targeted therapies.
The type of surgery you have for cervical cancer will depend on the size and location of the tumour.
The removal of pre-cancerous cells can usually be done with a cone biopsy, but if the cells have developed further then you may need a hysterectomy in which the entire uterus is removed. Other surgical options are possible and you should discuss this with your doctor.
Radiation therapy may also be used to treat cervical cancer, sometimes in conjunction with chemotherapy. Radiation therapy uses x-ray beams to kill any cancer cells that were not removed during surgery.
In treatment for cervical cancer, you may have external beam radiation, in which x-rays are aimed at the tumour from outside the body. You may also have internal radiation (known as brachytherapy) in which a device that emits the radiation is placed inside the vagina.
Side-effects may affect you no matter which area of the body you’re having radiotherapy to. Some side-effects are more common than others. These can include:
- Skin irritation
- Tiredness (fatigue)
- Feeling sick (nausea or vomiting)
- Problems with eating and drinking
- Flu-like symptoms
- Hair loss
If you experience any side effects during radiation treatment, tell your medical team. They are in the best position to help you manage any side-effects.
Surgery for cervical cancer is often followed by chemotherapy. Chemotherapy medicines work to destroy the cancer cells or control their growth. When you have chemotherapy, you are usually given a combination of two or more medicines intravenously (through the vein).
Chemotherapy is most commonly given every three to four weeks over a period of several months.
Chemotherapy kills rapidly growing cells like cancer cells, but can also kill other healthy cells that grow quickly, such as those in the bone marrow, digestive tract and hair follicles. Chemotherapy treatment can lead to a number of side-effects, including:
- Feeling sick (nausea and vomiting)
- Hair loss
- Tiredness (fatigue)
- Increased risk of infection.
If you’re experiencing side-effects as a result of chemotherapy, speak to your medical team about the best way to manage these. There are medicines that can be used to effectively control or minimise side-effects.