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Cervical Cancer - Treatments

Treatment for cervical cancer depends on several factors, such as staging of the cancer, other existing health problems and individual preferences. 

Surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of the three may be recommended by your doctor. 

Early stage 
This will be recommended since the cancer cells are localised in a small area of the cervix. The procedure may be either a simple hysterectomy (removal of the womb and cervix) or radical hysterectomy (removal of the womb, cervix and surrounding tissues) or a trachelectomy (removal of the cervix alone), depending on the stage of the cancer, your age and fertility wishes. 

For younger women with cervical cancer, ovarian transposition may be recommended. This procedure serves the purpose to preserve the ovarian function such as reproductive or hormonal maintenance. Sometimes, the ovaries may be moved from the pelvis to the upper abdomen region if further radiotherapy is needed to prevent harmful effects to the ovaries. This surgery can be done via minimally invasive surgery to allow for enhanced recovery for patients. If a woman wishes to have a baby after this procedure, they would have to do so via In-vitro fertilisation (IVF) and surrogacy. 

Beyond early stage 
Cancers that have spread beyond the cervix region would not be recommended surgery. Instead, treatment involves one of the following: 

Combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy 

Radiotherapy treats cancer by using high energy rays to destroy the cancer cells without harming the normal cells as much as possible. It can be given externally, internally or a combination of the two. Radiotherapy can also be used after surgery if there is high risk of cancer recurring. It can also be used in combination with chemotherapy. 

Chemotherapy uses anti-cancer drugs to destroy cancer cells. It can be used in combination with radiotherapy to improve the effectiveness of the treatment for better cure rates. 

Chemotherapy is used to shrink, control, and relieve symptoms to prolong good quality of life. It may also be used if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body or when the disease has recurred after radiotherapy treatment. 

Targeted therapy
Targeted drug treatments focus on specific targets present within or on cancer cells. By targeting these markers on cells, targeted drug treatments work in combination with chemotherapy to better destroy cancer cells. Your doctor will advise you regarding the suitability of use of targeted therapy in your care. 

Immunotherapy is a drug treatment that helps your immune system fight cancer. Cancer cells can sometimes evade the immune system. Immunotherapy drugs work by improving the process by which the immune system fights the cancer cells. Immunotherapy may be considered an option either alone or in combination with chemotherapy or other treatments in your care. Your doctor will advise you on the suitability of immunotherapy in your care.