Your treatment plan will depend on your diagnosis, your general health and whether you have or want to have children. Your doctor will discuss the course of treatment that is right for your needs.
Generally, cervical cancer treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy. 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.
Surgical options to treat cervical cancer include:
- 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 with a surgical scalpel or laser in a “cold knife” procedure.
- Vaginal hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus): A small incision is made at the top of the vagina to remove the uterus and sometimes other reproductive organs.
- Open surgery: An incision in your abdomen allows either a simple hysterectomy, in which your uterus and cervix are removed; a total hysterectomy, in which your uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes and ovaries are removed; or a radical hysterectomy, in which your uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, ovaries and tissue around the uterus and cervix are removed.
- Lymphadenectomy: Your surgeon will remove some of the lymph nodes in your pelvis and abdomen and have them examined under a microscope to see if the cancer has spread.
- Pelvic exenteration: This surgery is only used if cancer returns after your initial treatment. It’s extensive surgery to remove the uterus, cervix, lymph nodes, bladder, vagina, rectum and/or part of the colon.
Trachelectomy: This newer procedure maintains your ability to have children. In it, your cervix, upper portion of your vagina and nearby lymph nodes are removed. A "purse-string stitch" replaces the cervical opening.
- Robotic surgery: This minimally invasive procedure is similar to a laparoscopy but uses robotic precision coupled with magnified views and the surgeon's skills to perform a hysterectomy.
Non-surgical treatment options include:
- External beam radiation uses a special machine 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.
- Brachytherapy is a type of radiation therapy that uses small amounts of radioactive material inserted into or around the cancer, typically through your vagina.
- Chemotherapy (systemic anti-cancer) drugs can be given by mouth or injected through a vein. They affect your whole body to help control the spread of cancer to other organs.