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Staging and prognosis of cervical cancer

Staging

The tests completed help the doctors decide how far the cancer has spread. This is called staging. Knowing the stage of the cancer helps your health care team recommend the best treatment for you.

In Australia, cervical cancer is usually staged using the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) staging system. This is also often used for other cancers of the female reproductive organs. FIGO divides cervical cancer into four stages. Each stage is further divided into several sub-stages.

stage I Cancer is found only in the tissue of the cervix - early or localised cancer.
stage II Cancer has spread outside the cervix to the upper two-thirds of the vagina or other tissue next to the cervix - locally advanced cancer.
stage IIICancer has spread to the lower third of the vagina and/or the tissue on the side of the pelvis (pelvic wall). The cancer may also have spread to lymph nodes in the pelvis or abdomen, or caused a kidney to stop working - locally advanced cancer.
stage IVCancer has spread to the bladder or rectum (stage IVA) or beyond the pelvis to the lungs, liver or bones (stage IVB) - metastatic or advanced cancer.

Prognosis

Prognosis means the expected outcome of a disease. You may wish to discuss your prognosis and treatment options with your doctor, but it is not possible for anyone to predict the exact course of the disease. Instead your doctor can give you an idea about the general prognosis for people with the same type and stage of cancer.

To work out your prognosis, your doctor will consider:

  • your test results;
  • the type of cervical cancer;
  • the size of the cancer and how far it has grown into other tissue;
  •  whether the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes; and
  • other factors such as your age, fitness and overall health.

In general, the earlier cervical cancer is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome. Most early-stage cervical cancers have a good prognosis with high survival rates. If cancer is found after it has spread to other parts of the body (referred to as an advanced stage), the prognosis is worse and there is a higher chance of the cancer coming back after treatment (recurrence).

This information is reviewed by

This information was last reviewed in September 2019 by the following expert content reviewers: A/Prof Penny Blomfield, Gynaecological Oncologist, Hobart Women’s Specialists, and Chair, Australian Society of Gynaecological Oncologists, TAS; Karina Campbell, Consumer; Carmen Heathcote, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Queensland; Dr Pearly Khaw, Consultant Radiation Oncologist, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; A/Prof Jim Nicklin, Director, Gynaecological Oncology, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, and Associate Professor Gynaecologic Oncology, The University of Queensland; Prof Martin K Oehler, Director, Gynaecological Oncology, Royal Adelaide Hospital, SA; Dr Megan Smith, Program Manager – Cervix, Cancer Council NSW; Pauline Tanner, Cancer Nurse Coordinator – Gynaecology, WA Cancer & Palliative Care Network, WA; Tamara Wraith, Senior Clinician, Physiotherapy Department, The Royal Women’s Hospital, VIC.