How is cervical cancer treated?

radiotherapy machine

The way cervical cancer is treated mainly depends on:

  • The size and stage of your cancer
  • The type of cancer
  • If it has spread or not
  • Your general state of health
  • Your age and fertility

Treatments include:

Surgery

An operation to remove the cancer cells with the minimum risk of them returning. Types of surgery include a cone biopsy, hysterectomy, radical hysterectomy, bilateral oophorectomy, lymphadenectomy and radical trachelectomy. Read more about cervical cancer surgery.

Radiotherapy and chemotherapy (chemoradiation)

Radiotherapy and chemotherapy given together to make the radiotherapy more effective. Sometimes chemotherapy is given alone. 

External radiotherapy

Using high-energy rays to kill the cancer cells. It can be given instead of surgery or after surgery. It may also be given if the cancer has spread to the area around the cervix. Read more about radiotherapy for cervical cancer.

Internal radiotherapy (brachytherapy)

The radiation source is placed inside your vagina and / or womb close to the cervix for a very short time to kill the cancer cells. Read more about radiotherapy for cervical cancer

Targeted therapies

Drugs given alone or with chemotherapy to treat cervical cancer that comes back after treatment (recurrent). Read more about targeted therapies.

Will I get side-effects?

The type of side-effects you get will depend on the type of treatment, the dose, the duration and your own general health.

Ask your doctor or nurse about any possible side-effects before your treatment starts.

Read about the different treatments to find out more about possible side-effects. You can also read our section Coping with side-effects for more information and advice.

Treating metastatic cancer

Metastatic or secondary cervical cancer means the cancer has spread beyond the cervix, usually to your bones, lungs or liver. 

Remember that not all cervical cancers spread.

If you have metastatic cervical cancer, your doctor will aim to slow down the growth of the cancer and reduce or relieve any symptoms you have. Treatment includes chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Or you may be suitable for a clinical trial. If the cancer comes back in the same area as before, you may be able to have surgery to remove and cure your cancer.

For more information

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