The decision to undergo treatment and the choice of what kind of treatment to use for cervical cancer depend primarily on the stage that the cancer has reached. You simply cannot decide it on your own, and the number of variables informing these decisions can be highly confusing. This is why hospitals utilize multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) for the treatment of cervical cancer. MTDs are composed of a diverse set of specialists who combine their knowledge and work together for the treatment.
General Treatment Information for Cervical Cancer
The selection of options for treating every patient will differ, as it depends entirely on the stage the patient is in. Determination of the stage of a cervical cancer depends chiefly on the depth, size, and the incursion made by the virus (how much or how far it has grown in your cervix) and how far it has spread.
After the stage of your cervical cancer has been established, the team of doctors will recommend the treatment approaches to be taken. If you still have any kind of doubt, go ahead and ask the team of doctors, as knowledge is power and a powerful patient is likely to be more accountable and understanding, comments Dr. Alexander Salerno.
Cervical cancer, both the disease and the treatment, can affect your sexual life and the ability to reproduce. These are common concerns that also need to be discussed at the time the decision about treatment is made. Ensure that you understand the entire list of risks and effects that come with the treatment before you make any decisions, states Dr. Salerno. Also, depending on your age and the size and stage of the cancer, a woman may have to undergo more than one treatment.
The team of doctors who will be involved with your treatment process would include:
- A gynecologist: A doctor who treats all kinds of infections and issues related to the female reproductive system.
- A gynecologic oncologist: A doctor who is a specialist in cancers of the female reproductive system.
- A radiation oncologist: A doctor who will use the means of radiation to cure the cancer.
- A medical oncologist: A doctor who will utilize the chemotherapy approach together with a list of medications for the treatment of cancer.
Dr. Salerno adds that there may be several other specialists who will be part of the treatment process; the team may include psychologists, rehabilitation specialists, nurse practitioners, social workers, nurses, and other health professionals, if the need arises.
Common types of treatments involving cervical cancer are:
- Chemotherapy (chemo).
- Targeted therapy.
- Radiation therapy.
If cervical cancer is in the early stage, then a combined process of radiation or surgery together with chemotherapy will most probably be used. With cancers in later stages, the process of chemotherapy together with radiation is generally the major treatment course. For advanced cervical cancer treatment, the process of chemotherapy is the mainstay.
It is essential that all of your treatment options are discussed thoroughly, together with their possible goals and the common side effects that a patient may encounter. Your cancer team of specialists will deliberate carefully and recommend what treatment option is best for you; however, it is the patient who must make the final decision.
Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.