Cervical Cancer (cont.)
What Is the Prognosis of Cervical Cancer?
When precancerous or early cancerous changes are found and treated, the survival rate is close to 100%. The prognosis for invasive cervical cancer depends on the stage of the cancer when it is found.
The stage of a cancer is a measure of how far it has progressed, namely, what other organs or tissues have been invaded.
- For the earliest stages of cervical cancer (0, IA), more than 90% of women survive at least five years after diagnosis.
- Later stages of cervical cancer have a significantly worse outlook; 20% or fewer of women with stage IV (that has spread to distant sites in the body) cervical cancer survive five years.
These statistics are the reason that prevention is stressed in this disease.
- Most women diagnosed with precancerous changes in the cervix are in their 20s and 30s.
- The average age for true cervical cancer to be diagnosed is in the mid-50s.
- This difference in the age at which precancerous changes are most frequently diagnosed and the age at which cancer is diagnosed highlights the slow progression of this disease and the reason why it can be prevented if adequate steps are taken.
Health-care professionals who treat cancer often use the term "remission" rather than "cure." Although many women with cervical cancer recover completely, medical professionals sometimes avoid the word "cure" because the disease can recur. (The return of cancer is called a recurrence.)
Cervical Cancer Support Groups and Counseling
Living with cervical cancer presents many new challenges for a woman and for her family and friends.
- Patients diagnosed with cancer have many worries about how the cancer will affect their ability to "live a normal life," that is, to care for her family and home, to hold a job, and to continue the friendships and activities that she enjoys.
- Many people feel anxious and depressed. Some people feel angry and resentful; others feel helpless and defeated.
For most people with cancer, talking about their feelings and concerns helps.
- Friends and family members can be very supportive. They may be hesitant to offer support until they see how the woman is coping. A woman should not wait for them to bring it up. If she wants to talk about her concerns, she should let them know.
- Some people don't want to "burden" their loved ones, or they prefer talking about their concerns with a more neutral professional. A social worker, counselor, or member of the clergy can be helpful if a woman wants to discuss her feelings and concerns about having cancer. A gynecologist or oncologist should be able to recommend someone.
- Many people with cancer are helped profoundly by talking to other people who have cancer. Sharing one's concerns with others who have been through the same thing can be remarkably reassuring. Support groups for people with cancer may be available through the medical center where a woman is receiving her treatment. The American Cancer Society also has information about support groups all over the United States.
Boardman, Cecelia H. "Cervical Cancer." Medscape.com. May 31, 2016. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/253513-overview>.
United States. National Cancer Institute. "Cervical Cancer." <http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/cervical>.
United States. National Cancer Institute. "Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccines." Feb. 19, 2015. <http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/prevention/HPV-vaccine>.
United States. National Cancer Institute. "Pap and HPV Testing." Sept. 9, 2014. <http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/cervical/pap-hpv-testing-fact-sheet>.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/30/2016
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