The choice of your treatment depends mainly on the size of the tumor and whether the cancer has spread. We encourage our patients to review treatment options carefully and ask questions of your care team until you feel confident in your decision.
- Surgery is an option for women with Stage I or II cervical cancer in which the surgeon removes tissue that may contain cancer cells. Many women with early stage cervical cancer are candidates for minimally invasive surgery because of the precision offered by robotic tools.
- Radiation, also called radiotherapy, is an option for women with any stage of cervical cancer.
- Chemotherapy is usually combined with radiation therapy. For cancer that has spread to distant organs, chemotherapy alone may be used.
- Future treatments: Promising research currently underway includes the development of a vaccine that harnesses the power of the immune system to fight cancer.
Considerations Prior to Treatment
You may find that your options for treatment here are greater than anywhere else, which can be reassuring but also overwhelming. We are committed to providing you with the information you need to make an informed decision about your treatment. Here are some points to consider as you evaluate your options:
- Fertility and sexuality: Because treatment for cervical cancer may involve the removal of reproductive organs, it is important to understand how this will impact your ability to have children as well as your sexual function. If you are concerned about these issues, talk to your care team about what to expect after treatment and steps you might take prior to treatment that may preserve your ability to conceive.
- Side effects: Cancer treatments often damage healthy cells and tissues along with the cancer cells, so side effects are common. These side effects vary depending on the type and extent of treatment, and from one patient to the next. Knowing what to expect prior to treatment will allow you to be proactive in managing side effects or, taking quality of life into consideration, may also help you rule out particular treatment options.
- Second opinion: Before starting treatment, you might want a second opinion about the diagnosis, the stage of cancer, and the treatment plan. Some insurance companies require a second opinion; others may cover a second opinion if the woman requests it. Gathering medical records and arranging to see another doctor may take a little time. In most cases, a brief delay does not make treatment less effective.
Some cancer patients may find relief from disease symptoms or treatment side effects by incorporating complementary medicine. An approach is called complementary medicine when it is used along with standard cancer treatment. Acupuncture, massage therapy, herbal products, vitamins or special diets, and meditation are all examples of complementary approaches.
It’s important to talk with your doctor if you are considering exposing yourself to anything new. Some items that seem safe, such as certain herbal teas, may change the way your cancer treatment works. They can impact your health and be potentially harmful. Certain things may be harmful even if used alone so be sure to ask your physician or care team prior to trying any type of complementary care.