EARLY DETECTION IS KEY IN CERVICAL CANCER TREATMENT
For many women, a diagnosis of cervical cancer comes without warning since in its earliest stages there may be no signs or symptoms that something is wrong. Bleeding between periods, heavier bleeding during periods, unusual vaginal discharge, or pelvic pain may prompt a physician visit, and a subsequent pelvic exam and Pap smear may provide the diagnosis—but then what? Cervical Cancer treatment and prognosis depends largely on the stage of the disease. If found and treated early it often can be cured.
Clinical research trials represent some of the most advanced treatment options. Click here to learn more.
THE LATEST TREATMENT OPTIONS
Finding the right treatment can make all the difference. Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers specializes in evidence-based, cutting-edge and personalized therapy for patients with cervical cancer. Our multidisciplinary team includes a gynecologic oncology surgeon, a sub-specialized medical oncologist, and a radiation oncologist all dedicated to developing individualized treatment plans for our patients to achieve the best possible outcomes. To determine the most appropriate and effective treatment approach we consider the whole person. Treatments vary based on the patient’s age, history, desire to preserve fertility, and the stage and type of cervical cancer.
For very early stage cancers (carcinoma in situ or stage 0 cervical cancer) surgery may be the only treatment necessary. This can often be done by an in-office procedure such as loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) or cold-knife cone biopsy procedure. If the disease is at a more advanced stage then more radical surgical options (such as hysterectomy), radiation therapy, and chemotherapy may need to be considered.
Our board certified gynecologic oncology surgeon performs minimally-invasive surgeries including laparoscopy and robot-assisted hysterectomy for eligible patients resulting in shorter hospital stays, less post-op pain, and faster return to routine activities. For some with extremely advanced or recurrent cervical cancers, pelvic exenteration may also be considered.
For women who are not surgical candidates radiation therapy may be utilized to help stop cancer growth. Radiation treatment options may include brachytherapy, intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), or external beam radiation. High-dose-rate (HDR) Brachytherapy is an advanced method of internal radiation. Using a computer-controlled delivery system radiation treatment is delivered directly to the cancerous tumors through the use of a high activity radioactive source, transported through catheters or applicators placed inside the cervix. Because the radiation is delivered from within the tumor, the risk of damage to surrounding healthy tissue or organs is significantly lower and side effects are minimized. IMDT is 3D imaging radiation allowing reduced damage to the surrounding tissues.
Chemotherapy may be part of the treatment plan at any stage, especially when cancer cannot be completely removed surgically. It may be given concurrent with radiation therapy as a “radiation-sensitizer” or given before or after surgery to improve surgical outcomes and survival. Some patients may also be candidates for targeted therapy with Bevacizumab. This is a monoclonal antibody directed against the vascular endothelial growth factor and works by effectively reducing blood supply to the tumor. It was recently approved for use in conjunction with chemotherapy.
Our team of licensed oncology clinical social workers is here as a resource for you, your family and your caregivers, to assist with questions or concerns related to your cervical cancer diagnosis and its impact on your quality of life. They provide a safe, supportive and open environment for you to share your feelings, learn coping strategies and explore ways to live as fully and joyfully as possible. Their services also include referral to appropriate community resources, support groups and education classes.
CLINICAL TRIALS DEFINING NEW TREATMENT OPTIONS
Great inroads in new drug therapies to treat cervical cancer are being made thanks to successful clinical research. At Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers access to clinical trials is part of our comprehensive service offering. We strongly believe in the advancement of research. You may be eligible to participate in one of our clinical trials and get early access to an up-and-coming therapy, so make sure to ask your oncologist about whether you qualify for a trial.