Cervical cancer is also known as malignant neoplasm of cervix uteri. Different screening techniques are used to diagnose or confirm the stages of cervical cancer. This cancer is signified by unusual bleeding of the vagina. Sometimes symptoms are rare in subjects and it is not until in the advanced stages, when it is diagnosed. If diagnosed at early stages, radiotherapy or chemotherapy is done.
However, if it is in the advanced stage, the only treatment left for the physician to save the life of the individual is surgery. One of the screening tests that are frequently done is a Pap smear. Early diagnosis can successfully cure the cancer and prevent its development further.
Five different stages of cervical cancer
The cervix is a very narrow part of the uterus situated at the top of vagina. In most cases the cancer arises in the squamous epithelial cells.
Sometimes glandular epithelial cells or Adenocarcinoma is also seen. Cancer rarely arises in any other part of the cervix. There are five stages of cervical cancer, with each stage having sub stages.
This is the first stage of cervical cancer also known as carcinoma in situ. In this stage, the cancer cells are still at the superficial layer and have not yet penetrated to any deeper part of the tissue.
When cancerous cells have plagued deeper layers and are not yet situated superficially, it is known as stage I.
- Stage IA: The earliest stage is called Stage IA. This sub stage is identified only under microscopic examination.
- Stage IA1: If invasion of the cancerous cells is less that 3 mm deep as well as 7 mm in breadth, it is Stage IA1.
- Stage IA2: If and when the invasion of the cancerous cells in the cervix is between 3 mm and 5 mm depth and lesser than 7 mm in width, it is called Stage IA2.
- Stage IB: This is when the cancerous cells can be identified without a microscope.
- Stage IB1: In this stage the cancerous cells are less than 4 cm large.
- Stage IB2: In this stage the cancerous cells are greater than 4 cm.
In this stage of cervical cancer, the cancer has invaded the nearby tissue but is restricted within the pelvic zone are regarded as stage II.
- Stage IIA: If lower part is still unaffected, but cancer has spread to the upper part it is in stage IIA.
- Stage IIB: This is when cancerous cells have spread to the parametrial tissue.
At this stage, cancerous cells have already affected the lower areas of the vagina.
- Stage IIIA: Only the lower areas of the vagina are affected and cancer is limited to that area.
- Stage IIIB: In this stage the cancer has extended to the pelvic wall and the flow of urine towards the bladder is blocked.
In this stage, other regions of the body except the cervix uteri become affected. These stages of cervical cancer are regarded as advanced.
- Stage IVA: This is when the bladder or rectum is.
- Stage IVB: This stage of the cancer is not regarded as curable. Distant organs become affected too.