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Cervical Cancer

What If Cervical Cancer Comes Back?

Last modified: 
20/03/2012 - 18:11

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

The recurrence (return) of cervical cancer can be

  • Localized - confined to the pelvic organs near the cervix, or
  • Metastatic - widespread throughout the bloodstream or lymphatic system to distant organs like the lungs, or bone

Pelvic exenteration is a treatment option for recurrent cervical cancer that is limited to the pelvic area. This rare procedure involves the removal of the uterus, related lymph nodes and tissues, and, possibly, the bladder, rectum, part of the colon, and/or vagina. Recurrent cancer cannot be eliminated in about 60% of affected women. In such cases, palliative (pain-relieving) radiation therapy or chemotherapy may reduce symptoms.

Chemotherapy and radiation are also used to relieve symptoms associated with cervical cancer that has spread to distant organs. These treatments can provide temporary relief in 15% to 25% of women with this disease.

Some women with cervical cancer that has spread may choose to enroll in clinical trials designed to evaluate systemic (whole-body) chemotherapy and other new treatments for this form of the disease.

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Cervical Cancer

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From Andrew Maynard - Chair of the University of Michigan Department of Environmental Health Sciences, with help from David Faulkner - 2013 Master of Public Health graduate.