Types of Treatment for Cervical Cancer

Your doctor may recommend a specific treatment. Or, he or she may offer you a choice of which one you’d like to follow. But in most cases, surgery or radiation will be needed. Discuss with your doctor and other healthcare professionals any questions and concerns you have about your treatment options. Ask how successful the treatment is expected to be, and what its risks and side effects may be. Take the time you need to make the best decision for you.

Doctors are also finding new ways to treat cervical cancer. These new methods are tested in clinical trials. Before beginning treatment, you should ask your doctor if there are any clinical trials you should consider.

Treatment for cervical cancer is either local or systemic.

Local treatments remove, destroy, or control cancer cells in one area. Surgery and radiation are types of local treatments for cervical cancer.

  • Surgery. This treatment removes as much cancer as possible. It often cures the cancer. It is used for smaller cancers that have not spread far beyond the cervix. There are many types of surgery used for cervical cancer.

  • Radiation. This treatment kills cancer cells by using high-energy rays directed at the tumor from outside your body or with radioactive material placed inside your body. Women treated with radiation for cervical cancer often receive low-dose chemotherapy at the same time. This can make the radiation work better. Sometimes radiation can be used in place of surgery. For smaller cancers, radiation works as well as surgery. Radiation can also be used to cure larger cancers.

Systemic treatments destroy or control cancer cells throughout the body. Chemotherapy is a systemic treatment. That’s because it travels through the bloodstream to the whole body.

  • Chemotherapy. This treatment uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It is not very effective when used alone for cervical cancer. Most women who have chemotherapy for cervical cancer have it combined with radiation.

You may have just one treatment. Or you may have a combination of treatments.

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