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Cervical Cancer Treatment and Support

Creating the proper treatment plan for cervical cancer is an essential component of your care at Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center. We explore every option, and together, select the best treatment for your needs.

Cervical cancer treatment options depend on:

  • Stage of the cancer
  • Size of the tumor
  • The patient’s desire to have children in the future
  • The patient’s age and overall health

What Treatments Are Available for Cervical Cancer?


Surgery as a treatment option for cervical cancer is dependent upon the size and stage of the disease at diagnosis.

For early stages of cervical cancer (smaller lesions), these types of surgery may be used for precancerous lesions or cervical cancer that has not spread beyond the cervix:

  • Cone – Removal of precancerous tissue
  • Simple hysterectomy – Removal of the uterus

For late stages of cervical cancer (larger cancers up to 4 cm in size):

  • Radical hysterectomy – Removal of the cervix, uterus, part of the vagina, the parametria (tissues around the cervix) and nearby lymph nodes
  • Bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy – Removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is used for cancers that are greater than 4 cm or have spread beyond the cervix (stages II, III, or IV). Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or shrink the tumor.

Radiation therapy is used instead of surgery in most cases. However, sometimes it’s necessary after surgery if the cancer has spread outside the cervix, or to reduce the risk that cancer will come back.

Often, radiation therapy is combined with chemotherapy to enhance the effects.

There are two types of radiation therapy treatment options:

  • External radiation therapy uses a machine outside the body to send radiation toward the cervical cancer.
  • Internal radiation therapy uses a small amount of radioactive material delivered directly to the tumor using implants. While the patient is under anesthesia, internal radiation therapy implants are inserted through the vagina into the cervix and placed next to the tumor. The implants stay in place for a few days.


Chemotherapy is a treatment option that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. Chemotherapy can be given by mouth or injected into a vein or muscle. In most cases, it is given to a patient through a vein during an outpatient visit using systemic chemotherapy. The drugs enter the bloodstream and can reach cancer cells throughout the body.

Almost all cervical cancer patients in good medical condition who are receiving radiation are offered chemotherapy in addition to radiation therapy.

What Treatments Are Available for Human Papillomavirus (HPV)?

There’s no cure for HPV and most HPV infections go away on their own. It’s best to get vaccinated against HPV. If you do have high-risk HPV, which causes abnormal cell changes that might lead to cancer, you may consider the following treatments:

  • Cryotherapy: Freezes and removes precancerous cells from the cervix
  • LEEP or Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure: Removes precancerous cells from the cervix with an electrical current

How are Sex and Fertility Affected by Cervical Cancer Treatment?

Treatment for cervical cancer can have an effect on your sex life. Treatment may bring on early menopause. Physically, patients can go back to a normal sex life after a few weeks of finishing radiotherapy or having surgery. However, be sure to give yourself time to process what’s happened to you. Talk to your partner about what you’re feeling or consider going to a therapist.

Preserving a patient’s fertility during cervical cancer treatment may not be possible. To understand your options, talk with your doctor or consult specialists in reproductive endocrinology, infertility and gynecologic oncology.

Fertility preservation is usually limited to women with early-stage cervical cancer. However, you may experience infertility if your cervix or uterus becomes scarred or narrowed.

Pregnancy is not possible after hysterectomy or radiation therapy.

Are There Clinical Trials for Cervical Cancer Treatment?

Yes. Talk to your doctor if you’re interested in participating in a clinical trial for cervical cancer.

Proper treatment for cervical cancer is an essential piece of your care at Banner MD Anderson. We explore every option and together pick the best for your needs. You’ll also have access to our integrative oncology therapies, where you’ll find additional supportive care throughout your cervical cancer treatment.

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