How is cancer of the cervix treated?
The treatment options for cervical cancer depend mostly on the stage of the cancer. After your cancer is staged, the doctor will tell you what choices you have. If there is anything you don't understand, ask for it to be explained. Factors other than the stage of the cancer that might have an impact on your treatment decision include your age, your overall health, and your own preferences.
Common treatments for cervical cancer include:
Some very early cervical cancers are treated with surgery alone. Most cervical cancers, though, are treated with radiation combined with chemotherapy.
It is often a good idea to get a second opinion. A second opinion can give you more information and help you feel better about the treatment plan you choose. In fact, some health plans require you to get a second opinion.
If a cure isn't likely, the goal may be to remove or destroy as much of the cancer as possible. This is to keep it from growing or spreading for as long as possible. Sometimes treatment is aimed at just relieving symptoms. This is called palliative treatment.
Thinking about taking part in a clinical trial
Clinical trials are carefully controlled research studies that are done to get a closer look at promising new treatments or procedures. Clinical trials are one way to get state-of-the art cancer treatment. In some cases they may be the only way to get access to newer treatments. They are also the best way for doctors to learn better methods to treat cancer. Still, they are not right for everyone.
If you would like to learn more about clinical trials that might be right for you, start by asking your doctor if your clinic or hospital conducts clinical trials. You can also call our clinical trials matching service at 1-800-303-5691 for a list of studies that meet your medical needs, or see “Clinical Trials” to learn more.
Considering complementary and alternative methods
You may hear about alternative or complementary methods that your doctor hasn’t mentioned to treat your cancer or relieve symptoms. These methods can include vitamins, herbs, and special diets, or other methods such as acupuncture or massage, to name a few.
Complementary methods refer to treatments that are used along with your regular medical care. Alternative treatments are used instead of a doctor’s medical treatment. Although some of these methods might be helpful in relieving symptoms or helping you feel better, many have not been proven to work. Some might even be dangerous.
Be sure to talk to your cancer care team about any method you are thinking about using. They can help you learn what is known (or not known) about the method, which can help you make an informed decision. See Complementary and Alternative Medicine to learn more.
Help getting through cancer treatment
Your cancer care team will be your first source of information and support, but there are other resources for help when you need it. Hospital- or clinic-based support services are an important part of your care. These might include nursing or social work services, financial aid, nutritional advice, rehab, or spiritual help.
The American Cancer Society also has programs and services – including rides to treatment, lodging, support groups, and more – to help you get through treatment. Call our National Cancer Information Center at 1-800-227-2345 and speak with one of our trained specialists on call 24 hours a day, every day.
Last Medical Review: 10/15/2014
Last Revised: 01/29/2016