The cervix is the connection between the uterus and the vagina. Cervical cancer occurs when cells in the cervix grow out of control. These cells can spread into nearby tissues and organs, traveling throughout the body. Dealing with cervical cancer often means treating a slow-growing cancer, but in some cases, it can develop quickly.
Cervical cancers are characterized by the cells from which they form. There are a few other rare types of cervical cancers, like small cell and neuroendocrine carcinoma, but they are very uncommon.
One of the main risk factors for cervical cancer is infection with the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). HPV is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI) with various strains and subtypes that each have different symptoms and effects. Only a small percentage of women with HPV have the subtype that will develop into cervical cancer, but almost all cervical cancers have evidence of HPV in them. Regular screenings and early detection are the best ways to prevent cervical cancer.
Some tests are performed by primary care providers or OB/GYNs as part of routine screenings, while others are done after receiving abnormal results to learn more.
Staging is a measurement system based on the size of the tumor and how far it has spread in the body. Using the TNM system, all of the information from tests and examinations is then combined and assessed to determine the stage, from I (one) to IV (four). Generally, the higher the stage, the more serious the cancer.
(Tumor – node – metastasis system)
Cancer cells have formed and can be found in the cervix.
Cancer cells have spread from the cervix to the upper portion of the vagina or the tissue around the uterus.
Cancer has spread to the lower portion of the vagina but has not spread to the pelvic wall.
Cancer has spread beyond the pelvis and into the lining of the bladder or rectum or other parts of the body.
The grade of an illness refers to how the cancer cells look when compared to normal cells. The lower the number, the more cancer cells look like the normal cells. This means the cancer is less likely to spread and may be easier to treat. Grade 3 looks very different from normal cells and is likely to grow and spread faster.
Dealing with cervical cancer includes several treatment options that vary based on the extent of the disease. Some treatments are completed in our office, while others would be coordinated and performed by partner members of the patient care team outside of our office.