Different Options for Treating Cervical Cancer
Treatment for cervical cancer, which is caused by the growth of abnormal cells on the cervix, can be successful if it is detected early. Regular pap tests can uncover it in its early stages. The options for treating cancer in the cervix is dependent on the stage of the cancer, tumor size, age of the patient, and whether or not the patient wishes to have children.
There are three standard treatments that can either be used alone or in combinations.
Some of the ways to remove the cancer surgically include:
- Cone biopsy – With this procedure, a cone-shaped portion of the cervix is removed and then examined for the presence of cancer cells.
- Hysterectomy – A total hysterectomy involves the removal of the uterus and the cervix. It can be done vaginally, through an incision in the abdomen, or with a laparoscope through a small abdominal incision. A radical hysterectomy not only removes the uterus and cervix but also part of the vagina and some tissues and ligaments surrounding these organs.
- Cryosurgery – This procedure involves freezing and destroying the abnormal tissue.
Another standard treatment for cervical cancer is chemotherapy. Chemotherapy uses drugs to halt the growth of the abnormal cells in the cervix. It can either kill the cells or keep them from dividing. The drugs can be taken orally or injected. If injected, they are put into the bloodstream intravenously and they travel throughout the entire body or else they are injected directly into a body cavity or organ so that they reach cells in the affected area only. The method of treatment depends on the stage of the cancer.
Radiation for cervical cancer employs high-energy X-rays or other forms of radiation to either kill the cancer cells or stop their growth. Radiation can be applied externally with a machine used outside the body. Radiation can also be administered internally. With this form, the radiation is sealed into seeds, wires, needles, or catheters that are positioned directly into or near the cancer site. Method of application is dependent on the stage of the cancer.
Clinical trials are research studies involving cancer patients. The purpose of the trials to gather information on new ways to treat the cancer, and they often make new treatments available to patients. If these trials reveal that the new therapy works as well as or better than the standard methods of treating the cancer, it may become a standard procedure in the future.