Cervical Cancer Prognosis and Survival Rates
Researching prognostic factors for cervical cancer is very important because the disease is so common and can spread so quickly.
One of the most important prognostic factors involves how early the cancer is detected and how far it has spread. Women who undergo annual pelvic exams and Pap smears have a greater chance of detecting any abnormalities or cancerous tissue during the early stages. This can play a crucial role regarding the chances of treating the cancer successfully or having the disease come back. Many procedures such as radiotherapy, cryotherapy, laser treatment or chemotherapy may be effective in removing all the cancerous tissue if the cancer is detected early enough and is restricted to the cervix area. Unfortunately, a patient's chance of survival decreases if the cervical cancer has not been detected early enough and spreads to other parts of the body.
Size of the Tumour
The size of the cancerous cells or tumour is another prognostic factor for cervical cancer patients. Because cancer cells can divide very rapidly, it's crucial to detect the disease while the tumours are still relatively small. In fact, a tumour starts from a single cell so smaller masses of cancerous cells are less likely to spread. In most cases, small detected tumours can be treated successfully.
Types of Cervical Cancer
Prognostic factors are also determined by the type of cervical cancer. Approximately 75% of patients are diagnosed with squamous cell cervical cancer and approximately 10% of patients have adenocarcinoma cervical cancer. A much smaller number of patients develop a form of cancer containing elements of both types. Less than 1% of the population will develop another very rare form of this disease. Certain types of cervical cancer don't respond as well to treatment.
Cervical Cancer Stages
Cervical cancer contains is rated using stages 0 to 4. Local treatment is used for the initial stages and affects only a small part of the body. More advanced stages of cervical cancer will require a systemic treatment which involves treating the entire body.
- Stage 0: This stage is also called carcinoma situ and it refers to a situation where cancerous cervical cells have been detected, but have not yet spread to surrounding tissue. This stage of cancer is non-invasive and is often treated with a cone biopsy or a hysterectomy for more severe cases.
- Stage 1: In this stage, the cancer has grown
into the cervical tissue. The stages are broken up into further
- Stage 1A: The cancer has grown less than 3 mm (1/8 inch) into the cervical tissue and is less than 7 mm (1/4 inch) wide.
- Stage 1A2: The cancer has grown between 3-5 mm (1/5 inch), but is still less than 7 mm wide. Cancerous cells at the above 2 stages are only visible using a microscope.
- Stage 1B: The cancer is smaller than 4 cm (1.6 inches)
- Stage 1B2: The cancer is larger than 4 cm across, but has not usually spread and can normally be seen without a microscope. Surgery or radiotherapy is usually recommended for this stage of cervical cancer. Radiotherapy or radiation therapy involves killing cancer cells with a high-energy x-ray or radiation.
- Stage 2 Cancer in stage 2 has started to spread into the surrounding tissues.
- Stage 2A: The cancer has started to spread into the vagina, but not into the womb. Surgery or radiotherapy is normally recommended.
- Stage 2B: The cancer has spread into the surrounding tissues of the cervix. This stage is usually treated with a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Chemotherapy involves the use of anti-cancer drugs to destroy the cancerous cells.
- Stage 3: At this stage, the cervical cancer has spread from the area surrounding the cervix. The disease may have spread to the lower part of the vagina, into the muscles and ligaments lining the pelvic wall or into the ureters which are the tubes that drain the kidneys.
- Stage 3A: The cancer has spread into the lower part of the vagina, but not into the pelvic wall.
- Stage 3B: The cancer has grown into the pelvic wall or has blocked the tubes that drain the kidneys called ureters. Physicians normally recommend a combination of radiotherapy and chemotherapy to treat cervical cancer at this stage.
- Stage 4: This is the most advanced form of cervical cancer and it refers to the stage where the cancer has spread to other organs within the body.
- Stage 4A: The cancer has spread to surrounding organs such as the rectum or bladder.
- Stage 4B: The cancer has spread to organs located further away such as the lungs. This advanced stage of cancer is usually treated with a combination of surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy.