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Formerly known as California Oncology of the Central Valley Request an Appointment
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Formerly known as California Oncology of the Central Valley Request an Appointment

Cervical Cancer

Dealing with Cervical Cancer

The cervix is the connection between the uterus and the vagina. Cervical cancer occurs when cells in the cervix grow out of control. These cells can spread into nearby tissues and organs, traveling throughout the body. Dealing with cervical cancer often means treating a slow-growing cancer, but in some cases, it can develop quickly. 

Types of Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancers are characterized by the cells from which they form. There are a few other rare types of cervical cancers, like small cell and neuroendocrine carcinoma, but they are very uncommon.

Pre-Cancerous Lesions

Normal cells undergo a transformation before becoming cancerous, called pre-cancerous changes. Cervical cancer begins in cells with pre-cancerous changes, but only some women with these cellular abnormalities develop cervical cancer. For most women, these cells go away without treatment, but for some, they develop into invasive cancer. Treating these pre-cancers is the most effective method for preventing cervical cancer.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

This is the most common type of cervical cancer, comprising about 80% of the diagnoses. It develops in the cells on the surface of the cervix, known as squamous cells.


Adenocarcinomas form in the mucus-producing glands of the cervix. This is the second most common type of cervical cancer.

Mixed Carcinomas

A small percentage of cervical cancers have characteristics of both squamous and adenocarcinomas. These are called adenosquamous carcinomas.


One of the main risk factors for cervical cancer is infection with the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). HPV is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI) with various strains and subtypes that each have different symptoms and effects. Only a small percentage of women with HPV have the subtype that will develop into cervical cancer, but almost all cervical cancers have evidence of HPV in them. Regular screenings and early detection are the best ways to prevent cervical cancer.

Cervical Cancer Symptoms

  • Abnormal bleeding
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Pelvic or back pain
  • Pain with urination
  • Blood in the stool or urine
  • Pain during sex

Tests & Exams

Some tests are performed by primary care providers or OB/GYNs as part of routine screenings, while others are done after receiving abnormal results to learn more.

Pap Test

A brush or spatula is used to gather a sample of cervical cells during a pelvic examination. The cells are then examined under a microscope to look for any abnormalities.

HPV Test

By identifying those with HPV infections, this test can theoretically find the women who are most at risk for developing cervical cancer. HPV DNA tests identify the specific type of HPV infection so that women who test positive can have more frequent check-ups and screenings.

Other Tests Done for Cervical Cancer

  • CT scan
  • PET scan
  • MRI
  • Ultrasound
  • Lymph node biopsy
  • Cystoscopy
  • Laparoscopy


Staging is a measurement system based on the size of the tumor and how far it has spread in the body. Using the TNM system, all of the information from tests and examinations is then combined and assessed to determine the stage, from I (one) to IV (four). Generally, the higher the stage, the more serious the cancer.

TNM System

(Tumor – node – metastasis system)

  • T: shows how far the main tumor has spread into nearby tissue
  • N: shows whether or not the nearby lymph nodes have cancer in them
  • M: shows if the cancer has spread (or metastasized) to distant organs in the body
Stage I
Stage II
Stage III
Stage IV

Stage I

Cancer cells have formed and can be found in the cervix.

Stage I Cervical Cancer

Stage II

Cancer cells have spread from the cervix to the upper portion of the vagina or the tissue around the uterus.

Stage II Cervical Cancer

Stage III

Cancer has spread to the lower portion of the vagina but has not spread to the pelvic wall.

Stage III Cervical Cancer

Stage IV

Cancer has spread beyond the pelvis and into the lining of the bladder or rectum or other parts of the body.

Stage IV Cervical Cancer


The grade of an illness refers to how the cancer cells look when compared to normal cells. The lower the number, the more cancer cells look like the normal cells. This means the cancer is less likely to spread and may be easier to treat. Grade 3  looks very different from normal cells and is likely to grow and spread faster.

Comparison of the grades of cancer

Cervical Cancer Treatment

Dealing with cervical cancer includes several treatment options that vary based on the extent of the disease. Some treatments are completed in our office, while others would be coordinated and performed by partner members of the patient care team outside of our office.

In-Office Therapies

Other Courses of Treatment

Radiation Therapy

This type of treatment uses radiation to kill cancer cells or stop them from growing. The method and dosage of radiation therapy is dependent on the extent of the cancer.


The surgical operation usually used to treat cervical cancer is called conization, where a cone-shaped piece of tissue is removed from the cervix and cervical canal. It can be used in both diagnosis and treatment of the disease. In more severe cases, surgeries may also remove other affected organs in the area, called a hysterectomy or trachelectomy.