Cervical Cancer (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
Cervical cancer found in its early stages can be successfully treated. The choice of treatment and the long-term outcome (prognosis) of cervical cancer depend on the type and stage of cancer. Your age, overall health, quality of life, and desire to be able to have children must also be considered.
Types of treatment
Treatment choices for cervical cancer may be a single therapy or a combination of therapies, such as:
For more information about specific cervical cancer treatments, see the topics:
Most treatments for cervical cancer cause side effects. Your doctor can talk to you about your treatment choices and the side effects from each treatment.
Home treatment may help relieve some common side effects of cancer treatment. For more information, see Home Treatment.
Coping with emotions during treatment
When you first find out that you have cancer, you may feel scared or angry. Or you may feel very calm. It's normal to have a wide range of feelings and for those feelings to change quickly. Some people find that it helps to talk about their feelings with family and friends.
If your emotional reactions to cancer get in the way of your ability to make decisions about your health, it's important to talk with your doctor. Your cancer treatment center may offer psychological or financial services. And a local chapter of the American Cancer Society can help you find a support group.
Body image and sexual problems
Your feelings about your body and your sexuality may change following treatment for cancer. Managing body image issues may involve talking openly with your partner about your feelings and discussing your concerns with your doctor. Your doctor may be able to refer you to organizations that can offer additional support and information.
Treatment during pregnancy
Cancer treatment during pregnancy is the same as for nonpregnant women. But when you'll get treatment may depend on the stage of your cancer and what trimester you are in. For example, if you have early-stage cervical cancer and you are in your third trimester, your treatment may be delayed until after you deliver your baby. Treatment may cause problems such as an early delivery or even the loss of the baby.
After treatment for cervical cancer, it is important to receive follow-up care. Your oncologist or gynecologic oncologist will schedule regular checkups that will include:4
Follow-up tests that may be recommended by your oncologist include an abdominal and pelvic computed tomography (CT) scan. This test is to see if cancer has spread to other organs in the belly or pelvis.
Cervical cancer that comes back
Cervical cancer can return, or recur, after treatment. About 35 out of 100 women with cervical cancer will have persistent or recurrent disease.5 That means that the cancer doesn't come back in 65 out of 100 cases. The chance that your cancer will return depends on the stage of the initial cancer. Cancer found early is less likely to come back than cancer found at a later stage.
Your long-term outcome (prognosis) for recurrent cervical cancer depends greatly on how much the cancer has spread when the recurrence is diagnosed.
Cancer treatment has two main goals: curing cancer and making your quality of life as good as possible. Palliative care can improve your quality of life by helping you manage your symptoms. It can also help you with other concerns that you may have when you are living with a serious illness.
For some people who have advanced cancer, a time comes when treatment to cure cancer no longer seems like a good choice. This can be because the side effects, time, and costs of treatment are greater than the promise of cure or relief. But this isn't the end of treatment. You and your doctor can decide when you may be ready for hospice care.
It can be hard to decide when to stop treatment aimed at prolonging your life and shift the focus to end-of-life care. For more information, see the topics:
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