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Cervical Cancer Stages

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Cervix is one of the pelvic organs, which is vulnerable to the growth of malignant tumors on its layers, outer or deeper. This condition is called cancer of the cervix or cervical cancer in medical terms. This disease is becoming very common throughout the world. However, the advancements in the screening and treatments, has reduced the mortality rate to a significant level, but still to arrest the occurrence of this condition is a challenge to the continued research work.

There are different types of cervix cancer stages, and the treatment, if initiated in the early stage may be helpful to save the patient's life and organ loss. The staging is dependent upon the level the cancerous cells are spread and the organs involved. Knowing the exact stage of the cancer is vital to decide the appropriate treatment plan. As the stage keeps advancing, the cervix cancer prognosis of the patient goes on declining. Biopsy is one of the effective means to obtain the stage of cancer in the cervix.

Staging System for Cervical Cancer:

Staging is an act of confirming the level of cancerous growth in the body. The staging is done on a prescribed system followed FIGO (International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics) and another is AJCC (American Joint Committee on Cancer). The strategy followed by both these is similar and TNM based. Where 'T' stands for the extent of the cancerous cells' growth, 'N' is for detecting the involvement of the lymph nodes in it and finally, 'M' stands for extension of the malignant growth to different sites or organs.

The FIGO system staging is done initiating from stage 0 to stage IV, where a stage may be further divided into A or B to indicate the same stage with a little advancement of the malignancy. However, stage 0 is the initial stage, where the cervix lesions are not actually the cancerous growth, but may lead to malignant tumor if left untreated for a long time.

Cervical Cancer Staging As per the FIGO System:

  • Stage 0 - This stage is the basic stage of the cervical cancer and is also known as 'carcinoma in situ'. This is a type of non-invasive cancerous stage wherein, no actual cancer cells are found but there are a few cervical lesions that may turn into cancerous cells over a period of time. The lesions are also cited at the epithelial layer of the cervix. Hence, a person who is diagnosed of cervical cancer at this stage has maximum life expectancy with prompt treatments.
  • Stage I - This is a progressed stage wherein the malignant tumor has invaded the cervical region into a little deep than just the outer layer. However, the growth of the malignancy is still limited to the cervix and has not spread beyond the cervix and is limited to the neck of the uterus. This stage is further divided into two sub-categories:
    • Stage IA - As it is self explanatory, this is the initial stage of the stage I and is characterized by a tiny cancerous growth detectable only after microscopic observation or a colposcopy. The growth measures anything in between 2 mm to 7 mm in the cervix tissues.
    • Stage IB - This stage is characterized by a little larger tumor growth, however, isolated to the cervical tissues. It may or may not be seen without a microscopic examination. The length of the malignancy may be upto 4 cm or a little more. The treatment at this stage includes radiation therapy or cone biopsy to remove the tumor.
  • Stage II - The cancerous growth extends from the cervical region to other surrounding tissues. However, it does not spread outside the pelvic lining or lower vagina. This type is again divided into two sub stages:
    • Stage IIA - The cancerous growth spreads from the cervix region to the surrounding pelvic area and acquires 60-70% of the vagina from the top. However, does not involve any uterus tissues.
    • Stage IIB - The cancerous growth continues to spread in addition to the two-third of the upper vagina and extends to the tissues of the uterus. This stage may be treated with surgical removal of the cervical tissues or a radiation therapy of cervix cancer in conjunction with chemotherapy.
  • Stage III - The tumor continues to spread from the cervical region to the surrounding pelvic structures. It may extend to the remaining one third of the vagina and also the tubes involved in aiding kidney function of draining. the two sub types of this stage are:
    • Stage IIIA - This stage characterizes as malignant tumor spread to the third part of the vagina and remain confined to it.
    • Stage IIIB - This stage characterizes as the tumor growth in the lower vagina as well as in the pelvic wall to block the kidney tubes carrying urine to the bladder. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are suitable treatment for this stage.
  • Stage IV- This is the most advanced phase of the cervical cancer and is characterized by cancerous growth in the deeper tissues of the cervix as well as the organs surrounding to the cervix, such as rectum or bladder. Its sub types are:
    • Stage IVA - The cancer spreads to nearby organs of cervix such as bladder and rectum.
    • Stage IVB - The cancer spreads farther from the nearby organs from cervix to the lungs. Surgeries, radiation therapies and chemotherapies may serve treatment options during this stage.

Cervical cancer is the cancer of the cervix region and can be treated well during its beginning stage and for this certain diagnostic measures is required to determine the cervix cancer stages and to what extent it has progressed. FIGO system helps in determining the cancer stages to depict the development of the cancerous cells in and around the cervix region. There are mainly 5 types of cancerous stages and they further can be divided into sub types. However, the best life expectancy of cervical cancer is at the stage 0 of cancer, which can be achieved with suitable treatment.

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