Navigating Cervical Cancer Treatment

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January 17, 2024
Navigating Cervical Cancer Treatment

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. Facing a cervical cancer diagnosis, whether discovered through routine screening or after experiencing symptoms, can be an overwhelming experience. Arizona Oncology understands the challenges you might be facing and is here to provide you with the essential information you need to make informed decisions about your health.

Your cancer care team, led by experts trained to treat gynecologic cancers, will be instrumental in guiding you through the treatment process. This team may include a gynecologic oncologist, radiation oncologist, and medical oncologist, along with other clinical professionals like oncology nurses, social workers, pharmacists, genetic counselors, and dietitians.

Who Will Treat My Cervical Cancer?

While your primary care physician or gynecologist may have diagnosed your cervical cancer, specialized experts will play a crucial role in your treatment. A gynecologic oncologist may perform surgery and prescribe chemotherapy, a radiation oncologist specializes in radiation therapy, and a medical oncologist treats cancer with various medicines including chemotherapy, targeted drug therapy, and/or immunotherapy.

How is Cervical Cancer Treated?

Treatment options for cervical cancer depend on the cancer’s stage and location.


  • Conization: Removes a cone-shaped piece of tissue from the cervix for diagnosis or to treat microscopic cervical cancer.
  • Hysterectomy: Removes the uterus, and in some cases, adjacent tissues. Different types include simple, radical, and modified radical hysterectomy.
  • Trachelectomy: Removes the cervix and upper part of the vagina without eliminating the body of the uterus, allowing some women to carry a pregnancy to term.
  • Bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy: Removes ovaries and fallopian tubes if cancer has spread to those areas.
  • Exenteration: Removes various organs if cancer recurs or spreads following radiation therapy.

Radiation Therapy

  • External radiation therapy: Uses a machine to deliver radiation to the affected area.
  • Internal radiation therapy (brachytherapy): Places sealed radioactive substances directly into or near the cancer.


  • Uses anti-cancer drugs that travel through the bloodstream to reach cancer cells. It may be used in combination with radiation therapy to enhance its effectiveness.

Targeted Therapy

  • Targets specific proteins causing cervical cancer cell growth. Often used alongside chemotherapy.


  • Boosts the immune system to recognize and target cancer cells.

HPV Vaccination and Cervical Cancer Prevention

Can the HPV Vaccine Reduce the Danger of Cervical Cancer?

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted infection that is spread through intimate, skin-to-skin contact. HPV comprises a group of more than 150 related viruses that thrive in the cells found on the skin’s surface or other moist (mucosal) surfaces. Some HPV types cause common skin warts or low-risk genital warts, while others are considered high-risk and can lead to cancerous changes over time. HPV is responsible for the majority of cervical cancers.

Each year, approximately 11,000 women in the US are diagnosed with cervical cancer caused by HPV, and more than 200,000 women are diagnosed with cervical precancer from the same. The good news is that HPV vaccinations can prevent over 90% of the cervical cancers HPV causes.

What is the vaccine, and who should get it?

Gardasil®9 is the only FDA-approved HPV vaccine in the United States. Administered as a series of intramuscular injections, it protects against 9 HPV types, including HPV-16 and 18, which cause the highest number of cervical cancers and precancers. The vaccine is administered as a series of intramuscular injections. Given its efficacy in preventing infection from a number of HPVs, it can be an important part of your or your children’s preventive health care.

The American Cancer Society recommends vaccination for males and females between the ages of 9 and 12, with two doses. Teens and young adults between 13 and 26 who have not previously been vaccinated or did not complete their doses should also receive the vaccine.

Who should NOT get the vaccine?

  • Pregnant women
  • Individuals with a severe yeast allergy
  • Anyone who has had a life-threatening reaction to any other ingredient in the vaccine
  • Those who had a severe, adverse reaction to their first HPV vaccine dose

If I have been vaccinated, do I need to continue screening?

While the HPV vaccination protects against most but not all the HPV types that can cause cervical cancer, it is essential to maintain regular cancer screenings. The Pap smear and HPV testing are crucial for detecting cervical abnormalities. According to the American Cancer Society, cervical cancer screening should begin at age 25. Patients aged 25 through 65 should have a primary HPV test every five years or an HPV/Pap co-test every five years, or a PAP test every three years. Patients aged 65 and older do not need screening if several consecutive test results have been normal during the previous ten years.

Women who have had a total hysterectomy (removal of the uterus and cervix) do not need a Pap or HPV test unless cervical cancer or precancer was the reason a hysterectomy was necessary.

Though HPV is a leading cause of cervical cancer, other risk factors include family history, HIV infection, and smoking. Learn more about cervical cancer on our website.