To treat the patient, the doctor will not only consider the cancer type and where it is located but also how much the cancer has spread (its stage). Therefore, after cervical cancer is diagnosed, the doctor needs to stage the cancer. Staging is examinations that determine where the cancer is in the body and if it has spread to other locations. The stage is important because it enables the doctor and patient to decide on the best treatment options.
To determine the stage of cervical cancer (squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma), the doctor has a variety of tests to help him or her. The doctor can use a CAT scan (CT Scan). A CT Scan uses X-ray images along with a computer to make pictures of internal organs. If a tumor is in another part of the body, it will be seen in the pictures. The patient may be given a dye to help see the distinction between healthy and abnormal areas.
The doctor may also give a chest X-ray to determine if the cancer has spread to the organs in the chest. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a strong magnet and radio waves that are connected to a computer to make images of the pelvic area.
Ultrasound imaging can help the doctor by using ultrasound waves to make images of the inside of the body. This will aid the doctor in determining the spread of cancer. These and other tests along with the first test to diagnosis the cervical cancer are all taken into consideration when deciding upon the stage of the cancer.
Overview of the cervical cancer stages
In stage 0, also termed carcinoma in situ, the cancer has not extended significantly to the tissues of the cervix. It is still just in the top layer cervix cells. Consider that you are very lucky in case your cancer get diagnosed at this stage because the survival rate is 100 percent.
In stage I, the cancer cells are limited to the cervix where as in stage II, the cancer has extended into the vagina. However, it has only reached as far as the upper area of the vagina.
Stage III of cervical cancer the cells have invaded into the lower area of the vagina. The tumor at this stage may be large enough to affect the function of the kidneys because of blocking the urine flow.
Stage IV means that the invasion of the cancer cells has entered into other areas of the body like the bladder and rectum or even further to other organs or lymph nodes.