Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Treatment for cervical cancer depends on several factors, such as the stage of the cancer, other health problems you may have and your preferences about treatment. Treatment options may include:

  • Surgery. Surgery to remove the uterus (hysterectomy) is typically used to treat the early stages of cervical cancer. A simple hysterectomy involves the removal of the cancer, the cervix and the uterus. Simple hysterectomy is typically an option only when the cancer is at a very early stage — invasion is less than 3 millimeters (mm) into the cervix.

    A radical hysterectomy — removal of the cervix, uterus, part of the vagina and lymph nodes in the area — is the standard surgical treatment when there's invasion greater than 3 mm into the cervix.

    A hysterectomy can cure early-stage cervical cancers and prevent cancer from coming back, but removing the uterus makes it impossible to become pregnant.

  • Radiation. Radiation therapy uses high-powered energy to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy can be given externally using external beam radiation or internally (brachytherapy) by placing devices filled with radioactive material near your cervix.

    Both methods of radiation therapy can be combined. Radiation therapy can be used alone, with chemotherapy, before surgery to shrink a tumor or after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells. Premenopausal women may stop menstruating as a result of radiation therapy and begin menopause.

  • Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy drugs, which can be used alone or in combination with each other, are usually injected into a vein, and they travel throughout your body killing rapidly growing cells, including cancer cells. Low doses of chemotherapy are often combined with radiation therapy, since chemotherapy may enhance the effects of the radiation. Higher doses of chemotherapy are used to control advanced cervical cancer that may not be curable. Certain chemotherapy drugs may cause infertility and early menopause in premenopausal women.
Jun. 28, 2013

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