Cervical Cancer Treatments
The best treatment of cervical cancer requires a multidisciplinary team approach. Aurora cancer patients benefit from multidisciplinary case reviews, which can include specialists from various disciplines.
- Cancer Nurse Navigator: a registered nurse with special training who can help answer your questions and provide information on resources and support services.
- Gynecologic oncologist: an obstetrician/gynecologist with additional fellowship training in the study and treatment of cancers of the reproductive system.
- Pathologist: a physician who examines tissues and cells under a microscope to determine if they are normal or abnormal.
- Radiation oncologist: a physician specializing in treating cancer with radiation therapy.
- Radiologist: a physician who uses X-rays and other imaging tests to diagnose disease.
Our team of experts customize treatment plans for each patient and may include cancer surgery, radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy.
Your diagnosis, cancer staging, general health and child-bearing preferences may play a role in deciding the appropriate treatments.
- Cryosurgery: abnormal cells are killed by freezing them with a cold metal probe.
- Laser surgery: abnormal cells are destroyed with heat from a focused beam of energy.
- Conization: removing a cone-shaped portion of tissue may be the only treatment necessary. Conization (or a cone biopsy) is usually performed with either the loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP), also called a large loop excision of the transformation zone (LLETZ); or a surgical scalpel or laser in a "cold knife" procedure.
- Vaginal hysterectomy: a vaginal hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus) requires a small incision at the top of the vagina to remove the uterus and sometimes other reproductive organs.
- Open surgery: an incision a few inches in length is made in the abdomen to provide access to the reproductive organs.
A simple hysterectomy removes your uterus and cervix. An abdominal hysterectomy removes your uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes and ovaries. While a radical hysterectomy removes your uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, ovaries and tissue around the uterus such as lymph nodes.
If cancer returns after your initial treatment, more extensive surgery, such as pelvic exenteration may be necessary. This procedure may remove your uterus, cervix, lymph nodes, bladder, vagina, rectum and/or part of your colon.
- Trachelectomy: a newer procedure designed to maintain your ability to have children, trachelectomy removes your cervix, upper portion of your vagina and nearby lymph nodes. A "purse-string stitch" replaces the cervical opening. It can be performed as open abdominal surgery or through an incision through the vagina.
- Robotic surgery: this minimally invasive procedure is similar to a laparoscopy but uses the robotic precision coupled with magnified views and the surgeon's skills to perform a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus).
Surgery may be followed by chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy to kill additional cancer cells. In some cases, chemotherapy or radiation is used to shrink your tumor before surgery.
External beam radiation uses a special machine outside your body to send beams of high-energy X-rays through your skin to target and kill cancer cells. Radiation may be used by itself or with surgery. A course of radiation treatment may be done5 days per week for several weeks. Side effects may include nausea, diarrhea, cramping, loss of appetite, skin irritation and fatigue.
Another option is Brachytherapy in which small amounts of radioactive material are inserted into or around the cancer, typically through your vagina. It’s more targeted, affecting less healthy tissue than external beam radiation, and may use a higher radiation dosage so fewer treatments are required. Side effects may include fatigue, vaginal irritation, abdominal cramping and diarrhea.
Systemic anti-cancer drugs can be given by mouth or injected through a vein. They affect your whole body to help control its spread to other organs. Side effects may include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, hair loss, fatigue, mouth sores and vaginal sores. Chemotherapy is typically given regularly for a few weeks and may be repeated after a rest period.
Cancer clinical trials offer additional treatment options for some patients. Some promising new treatments may only be available in a research setting. Aurora offers access to these clinical trials of therapies that might not be widely available elsewhere.
Aurora offers other treatments and palliative care to maintain quality of life during and after cervical cancer treatments. Reducing disease symptoms, managing treatment side effects, maximizing comfort and taking advantage of complementary therapies are part of the mission of the Cancer Counseling Center.