Cancer staging helps determine correct treatment. Stage 1 cervical cancer can be cured with prompt treatment. Read ahead to know how early stage cervical cancer is detected and how it is treated…
Pap smear test helps detect early stage cervical cancer. The test has proven to be a life saver. Mortality rate of cervical cancer has significantly decreased after widespread use of Pap smear test. The test helps detect the cancer even in its earliest stage called ‘carcinoma in situ’.
Staging of Cervical Cancer
Growth of abnormal malignant cells in an organ is called cancer. Malignant cells form tumor and start invading the nearby lymph nodes and nearby organs. The cancer then spreads through blood, lymphatic fluid or tissues, towards distant lymph nodes and organs, in the later stages. Experts have determined the stages of cervical cancer according to the size and nature of the abnormal cells, size of tumors, number of tumors and spread of cancer to other sites (known as metastasis). Stage zero, stage 1, 2, 3 and stage 4 are the stages of cervical cancer. Stages 1, 2, 3 and 4 are further subdivided into 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B and so on.
Stage 0 Cervical Cancer
Stage zero of cervical cancer is also known as ‘carcinoma in situ’. One of the main reason of abnormal Pap smears is carcinoma in situ, abnormal growth of cells detected on the cervix. Sometimes, a low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (mild dysplasia described as CIN I) is noticed. Tests performed at regular intervals help watch the condition. The condition may turn into moderate or high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (moderate or severe dysplasia described as CIN II or CIN III) which may lead to cervical cancer. At this stage, cancerous cells are found only in the layer lining the cervix. They are not found in the deeper layer or deeper tissues of the cervix. This condition is also referred to as cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) grade III (CIN III). It is easy to remove the cancer at this stage.
Stage 1 Cervical Cancer
In this early stage, presence of cancer in the cervix is detected after tests. The cancer might invade the cervix but when it is not spread to the nearby lymph nodes and organs, the condition is known as ‘stage one’. This means, in the first stage, the cancer is confined to its site of origin. Depending upon the signs and symptoms, this stage is subdivided into stage 1A and 1B. Stage 1A indicates very small growth of cancer. The growth is so small that it can be seen under a microscope only. This stage is further subdivided into stage 1A-1 and 1A-2. In stage 1A-1, the tumor (growth of cancerous cells) is less than 3 mm deep and less than 7 mm wide. In stage 1A-2, the tumor is about 3-5 mm deep and less than 7 mm wide.
If the cancer is visible with or without a microscope and in case the tumor has spread deeper than 5 mm into the cervix tissue or is wider than 7 mm, then the condition is described as 1B. Like 1A, 1B is also subdivided into 1B-1 and 1B-2. When the cancer is not larger than 4 cm, it is described as 1B-1. The cancer can be easily seen in 1B-1 and 1B-2. In stage 1B-2, the cancer is larger than 4cm.
So, mainly, the size of the tumor is quite small in the initial stage of cervical cancer and the cancer is confined to the cervix or lower end of uterus. So ‘first stage cervical cancer prognosis’ is quite favorable. During the first stage, the cancer does not spread to the nearby lymph nodes and organs, and hence it is easy to remove the cancer surgically. The treatment for cervical cancer in the first stage also involves chemotherapy and radiation therapy, with the help of which remaining cancer cells are killed. In early stages, the cancer can be asymptomatic and hence undergoing routine Pap smear test is essential for every woman. Some women may notice pelvic pain, vaginal bleeding between periods, bleeding after menopause, unusual vaginal discharge or heavy and longer menstrual periods. You may refer to another HerHaleness article cervical cancer symptoms and treatment for more information.
Cervical cancer (cancer of the cervix) is one of the common forms of cancers in women. Thanks to the scientists and modern technology that stage 1 cervical cancer survival rate has improved dramatically over last few decades.