What You Need to Know About Stage III Cervical Cancer
The good news about Stage III cervical cancer is that it is still considered highly treatable, and while remission is far from assured, the cancerous cells are usually detected early enough to keep a patient from deteriorating into the Stage IV category.
Cervical cancer is one of the most common diseases among women, and like heart disease, is an unfortunate and silent killer. It presents few symptoms in the very early stages; therefore, the only way to detect its presence is via an abnormal pap smear and subsequent biopsy of cervical tissue. Unfortunately, by the time many women begin to suspect something is amiss, the disease has already progressed to Stages II or III. This requires a far more aggressive approach to overcoming the illness.
If a patient is diagnosed with Stage III cervical cancer, she is placed into one of two categories, type A or type B. Women suffering from type A malignancies have cancerous cells that have extended from the cervix into the vaginal area, and may suffer from tumors or other tissue abnormalities. Women suffering from type B malignancies have cancerous cells that have either spread throughout the pelvis, or are keeping the kidneys from draining properly.
When facing a diagnosis of Stage III cancer, it is important to take the time to speak to your oncologist in an open and honest fashion. Depending on your current state of health and how aggressively your cancer is progressing, there may be different goals in assigning a certain course of treatment. The goal may be to keep the cancer from spreading to other organs, to improve the likelihood that you will achieve remission after treatment, or simply to prolong your life expectancy with the disease. The approach to treatment is a very personal and often emotional choice.
Patients are typically treated with an aggressive combination of chemotherapy and radiation on an outpatient basis. Clinical trials are typically not recommended if chance of remission is high, although surgery may be necessary to remove tumors or other tissue that is at high risk of developing cancer. Most Stage III patients are well enough to live at home and maintain some semblance of a normal life.
The most difficult cases are Type B cases, where cancer cells may block proper function of the kidneys, or renal cancer is a cause for concern. Some patients end up having a kidney removed, go through dialysis, need a transplant, or become Stage IV metastatic patients. However, as with all cancer, early and aggressive treatment can save a patient’s life, or at the very least, prolong it.