The cervical cancer treatment depends on how far the cancer’s spread and personal wishes. Your cervical cancer specialist will talk with you about your options and the best way to proceed.
If results from your cervical screening show that you don’t have cervical cancer but there are changes that might become cancerous later, you may need the abnormal cells removing. There are a few ways of doing this, including cone biopsy, large loop excision of the transformation zone (LLETZ) and laser therapy.
If you have early cervical cancer, you’re likely to be recommended:
- surgery to remove some or all of your womb
- a combination of the two.
If you have advanced cervical cancer, you might need one or a combination of:
Abnormal cells in your cervix are burned away using a laser.
Removing part of the cervix (radical tralechtomy)
This type of surgery is performed by one of our specialist gynaecologists called gynaecological oncologists. The procedure’s only possible if you’re in stage 1 of cervical cancer, when the cancer’s still small.
Your specialist surgeon will try to remove all of the cancer, but leave the opening of your cervix then stitch it closed. The aim is that you’ll still be able to have a baby – the stitch will support a growing baby until it’s ready to be born by a caesarean.
Removing part of the womb (radical hysterectomy)
You might need to have surgery to remove your womb to make sure all the cancer has gone. Radical hysterectomy is the standard operation for early cervical cancer.
At BMI Healthcare, our specialist consultant gynaecologists use keyhole surgery to operate. This is also called minimal access surgery or laparoscopic surgery. Keyhole surgery causes less trauma to the skin and tissues around your pelvis, which means recovery time is a lot quicker than if you had the standard procedure.
The standard procedure without keyhole surgery usually involves a four to seven-day hospital stay, and it can take a month or so to recover at home.6 On the other hand, keyhole surgery normally only requires a two-day hospital stay, and most people get back to their normal activity very quickly. More about laparoscopic radical hysterectomy for cervical cancer.
Fertility-sparing surgery for cervical cancer treatment
Trachelectomy is an operation to treat cervical cancer that can help to preserve the uterus for women who want a future pregnancy.
The cervix (neck of womb) is not essential for a successful pregnancy. So if the cancer is confined to the neck of the womb, then removing the cancerous cervix can still preserve the womb to allow the baby to grow. More about fertility-sparing surgery for cervical cancer.
Radiotherapy is a common cancer treatment that uses radiation to get rid of any cancer cells left behind after you’ve had surgery. Radiotherapy is usually split into a course of treatments. How long and how often you need treatment depends on your needs.
Chemotherapy uses drugs to disrupt the growth of cancer cells. It can also shrink advanced cervical cancer. Usually, chemotherapy involves being injected with the drug every few days for around a month. Your doctor might recommend chemotherapy as part of your treatment when you’re diagnosed, to treat cancer that’s come back, or before surgery.
Giving radiotherapy and chemotherapy at the same time is called chemoradiation, and is generally more effective at getting rid of cancer cells than having either treatment on its own.
This operation is usually only recommended if the cancer comes back after other treatment hasn’t worked. It’s a big operation that involves removing the cancer, your bladder, rectum, vagina and lower section of your bowel. Following this type of surgery, your vagina can be reconstructed so you’ll still be able to have sex.
For a few years after your cervical cancer treatment, you’ll need regular follow-up appointments with your specialist. These check-ups might involve:
- being examined
- taking a sample of cells from your cervix
- blood tests
- MRI or CT scans
- liver ultrasound scans.
Paying for your treatment
You have two options to pay for your treatment – your costs may be covered by your private medical insurance, or you can pay for yourself. Check with your private medical insurer to see if your diagnostic costs are covered under your medical insurance policy. If you are paying for your own treatment the cost of the procedure will be explained and confirmed in writing when you book the operation. Ask the hospital for a quote beforehand, and ensure that this includes the consultants’ fees and the hospital charge for your procedure.
Want to know more?
If you’d like to read more about cervical cancer, treatment or living with cervical cancer, please visit cancerresearchuk.org.uk.
6 Cancer Research UK, Surgery for cervical cancerhttp://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-help/type/cervical-cancer/treatment/surgery/surgery-for-cervical-cancer#trach