Cervical cancer usually occurs as a result of human papillomavirus (HPV) – a sexually transmitted disease. The best way for young women to prevent cervical cancer is to become vaccinated against HPV. When they do receive a cancer diagnosis, treatment depends on how far the cancer has spread.
“If cervical cancer is in an early stage and has not spread beyond the cervix, we can usually treat it with surgery – such as a radical hysterectomy – or pelvic radiation therapy,” says Olivia Aranha, MD, PhD, medical oncologist at Saint Francis Medical Center. “If we catch it very early, we might be able to just perform a cone biopsy, during which we extract a cone-shaped wedge of tissue from the cervix.”
For more advanced cervical cancer, such as when the cancer has invaded the bladder and rectum, a woman might need extensive chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
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