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Cervical Cancer

Cervical Cancer Treatments at Virginia Oncology Associates

Women with cervical cancer have many treatment options. The choice of treatment depends mainly on the size of the tumor and whether the cancer has spread (cervical cancer stage). The treatment choice may also depend on whether you would like to become pregnant someday. 

Treatment options for cervical cancer may include one or a combination of the following treatment types: 

If you have been diagnosed with a type of gynecologic cancer like cervical cancer, the first step is to schedule a consultation with a gynecologic oncologist who specializes in treating cancers that develop in the female reproductive system. If you’re in the Hampton Roads area, we offer gynecologic oncology appointments in Norfolk, Chesapeake, and Suffolk. Ultimately, the goal of this first appointment with a gynecologic oncologist is to provide you with an individualized treatment plan. 


Surgery is an option for women with Stage I or II cervical cancer. The surgeon removes tissue that may contain cancer cells:

  • Radical trachelectomy: The surgeon removes the cervix, part of the vagina, and the lymph nodes in the pelvis. This option is for a small number of women with small tumors who want to try to get pregnant later on.
  • Total hysterectomy: The surgeon removes the cervix and uterus.
  • Radical hysterectomy: The surgeon removes the cervix, some tissue around the cervix, the uterus, and part of the vagina.

With either total or radical hysterectomy, the surgeon may remove other tissues:

  • Fallopian tubes and ovaries: The surgeon may remove both fallopian tubes and ovaries. This surgery is called a salpingo-oophorectomy.
  • Lymph nodes: The surgeon may remove the lymph nodes near the tumor to see if they contain cancer. If cancer cells have reached the lymph nodes, it means the disease may have spread to other parts of the body.

Radiation Therapy for Cervical Cancer Treatment

Radiation therapy (also called radiotherapy) is an option for women with any stage of cervical cancer. Women with early-stage cervical cancer may choose radiation therapy instead of surgery. It also may be used after surgery to destroy any cancer cells that remain in the area. Women with cancer that extends beyond the cervix may have radiation therapy and chemotherapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. It affects cells only in the treated area.

Doctors use two types of radiation therapy to treat cervical cancer. Some women receive both types:

  • External radiation therapy: A large machine directs radiation at your pelvis or other tissues where the cancer has spread. The treatment usually is given in a hospital or clinic. You may receive external radiation 5 days a week for several weeks. Each treatment takes only a few minutes.
  • Internal radiation therapy: A thin tube is placed inside the vagina. A radioactive substance is loaded into the tube. You may need to stay in the hospital while the radioactive source is in place (up to 3 days). Or the treatment session may last a few minutes, and you can go home afterward. Once the radioactive substance is removed, no radioactivity is left in your body. Internal radiation may be repeated two or more times over several weeks.

Chemotherapy for Cancer of the Cervix

For the treatment of cervical cancer, chemotherapy is usually combined with radiation therapy. For cancer that has spread to distant organs, chemotherapy alone may be used.

Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. The drugs for cervical cancer are usually given through a vein (intravenous). You may receive chemotherapy in a clinic, at the doctor’s office, or at home. Some women need to stay in the hospital during treatment.

Immunotherapy for Cervical Cancer

This type of cancer treatment uses the patient's immune system to destroy cancer cells. One approach for immunotherapy to treat cervical cancer is targeting the proteins on the cancer cell's surface, known as checkpoint inhibitors. These proteins can hinder the immune system's ability to attack cancer cells, so blocking these proteins allows immunotherapy drugs to boost the immune system and allow it to attack the cancer cells.

Another way immunotherapy is used for cervical cancer is with vaccines that encourage the immune system to attack cancer cells. As an example, the HPV vaccine can prevent infection with the HPV virus, the primary cause of cervical cancer. In some cases, cancer cells may also be genetically created to produce proteins that can trigger a response in the immune system, which can be used as a vaccine.

Immunotherapy can be combined with other cancer treatments, including chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Not all women with cervical cancer are candidates for immunotherapy, and the effectiveness can vary from patient to patient based on the cancer's stage and other factors. Your gynecologic oncologist can help you determine whether immunotherapy is a treatment option for you.

The Latest Cervical Cancer Treatments Available in Virginia

For comprehensive cancer care and the latest cancer treatments for cervical cancer available in southeast Virginia and eastern North Carolina, contact the gynecologic oncologists at Virginia Oncology Associates. We specialize in the treatment of gynecologic cancer, including medical and surgical oncology treatments, integrative medicine, clinical research, and patient support. Our cancer centers are located in ChesapeakeSuffolk, and Norfolk, Virginia.