Gynecologic cancer | Staging cervical cancer

These FAQs about cervical cancer have been answered by women who have learned about this subject in order to better understand their condition. For more information about cervical cancer, please visit our Resource section on gynecological cancers.

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 How is cervical cancer staged?

 Jax, Massachusetts, USA: My doctors told me my cervical cancer was stage 1b, based on a colposcopy and a biopsy in which the core of the cervix was removed. Evidently stage 1b indicates that the cancer is contained within the cervix and that the tumor was small. I was also told that I would be restaged if, during the radical hysterectomy I was advised to have, any lymph node involvement was detected. I was reassured through all of this that a stage 1b was an early cancer and that the hysterectomy would be considered as 'curative.'

 Cathy B., Ontario, Canada. When I was examined, it was clear that a tumour was present in my cervix. In fact, the physician referred to the tissue as 'necrotic' or dead. She explained that this meant the tumour was advanced and likely had spread to the surrounding tissue. Many of the diagnostic and treatment planning included tests to 'rule out' things. For example, an xray ruled out spread to the lungs. A bone scan ruled out metastasis to bone.

The two key tests for determining the stage of my cancer was a CT scan and a biopsy. Unfortunately, the pathologist needs 'live tissue' in order to accurately determine type of cancer cell and present disease. I ended up having three separate biopsies done, because of the amount of 'dead' tissue in my cervix. Though painful at my stage, the biopsy is done in office and is a quick 'snip' of cervical tissue. The final biopsy, coupled with a CT report determined my cancer stage was 2b.--cancer that had spread beyond the cervix to the surrounding tissue. At the time, the treatment protocol was radiation only.

The Cervical Cancer Center has excellent graphics showing the stages of cervical cancer.

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