What is Stage IV Cancer?
If you’re suffering from or have recently been diagnosed with Stage IV (Stage 4) cervical cancer, chances are good that you have a lot of questions, and are in need of a compassionate and informative source that will help you make the choices that are best for you and your family.
When illness is detected and the diagnosis is confirmed through biopsy or other error-proof testing, a stage is assigned, according to how aggressive the cancer cells are and how easy the disease may be to treat. As with all cancers, the earlier the disease is detected, the easier it is to send it into remission using traditional treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation.
Patients who are suffering from Stage IV cervical cancer are placed into one of two groups: A and B. Type A means that the cancer has spread to adjacent organs such as the bladder or ovaries, but has not yet metastasized throughout the entire body. Type B means that the cancer has spread to other organs, such as the lungs, brain, liver, or pancreas.
In both cases, patients should be treated with an aggressive combination of chemotherapy and radiation. The degree of success depends on the degree to which the cancer cells have spread throughout the body, and for some Stage IV patients, the best hope of recovery lies in the form of clinical trials.
Type A patients are typically treated in hospitals or cancer centers, where aggressive treatment from oncologists and other professionals is always on hand. Patients should be closely monitored for signs of improvement or decline, and because time is of the essence, if a course of treatment appears to be shortening the patient’s lifespan, it should be promptly discontinued. While the disease is difficult to treat and full remission is rare, it is possible. Surgeries such as hysterectomies are common to remove any cancerous cells that are beginning to flourish in the reproductive system.
Type B patients are often more difficult to treat, particularly if cancer has spread to the lungs, bones, brain, liver, or pancreas. It is important to strike a balance between aggressive treatment options and acknowledging a realistic outcome. Some patients in this group may only have an estimated three to twelve months before death is considered likely. While some choose clinical trials and other treatments during this period, others choose to discontinue chemotherapy and radiation, living out their remaining days at home or eventually entering hospice care. Stage IVB is the final stage of cancer, and is often considered terminal, so decisions must be made carefully and on a personal basis.