Cervical cancer occurs when the cells of the cervix changes and grows uncontrollably forming a mass of cells. Cervix is the lower most part of the uterus that opens into vagina. When a patient is diagnosed with cervical cancer the next step would be to see or monitor the spread. The cancer can spread to different parts or affect a specific part based on the severity. In medical oncology terms to monitor the spread of cancer is referred to as staging.
In staging doctor will see whether the cancer is confined to cervix or if it has spread in and around the cervix or it has spread to distant part of areas like liver and lungs.
Based on the investigations the oncologist concludes the staging of cervical cancer. There are four stages 1-4.
In stage 1, the predominant treatment would be surgical. The procedure is called radical hysterectomy, where the entire uterus is removed along with surrounding lymph nodes.
In higher stages, that is between stage 2 and 3, the main treatment would be radiation. Radiation is like an x-ray where area is marked based on the imaging. A CT scan is used in radiation therapy and rays are delivered to a particular area. Radiation is of two types. One is external radiation, where the radiation is given from outside .Second is called brachytherapy or internal radiation where wires or mould are placed within the vagina and radiation is delivered to the cervix. Both teletherapy and brachytherapy is likely to be required in carcinoma cervix.
In more advanced cases, where cancer is already spread to the distant areas, the main treatment would be chemotherapy, which are usually medicines administered by the intravenous route.