Cervical cancer is a slow-growing cancer that forms and grows abnormally in the cervix (the organ connecting the uterus and vagina). It is usually found at a very early stage through regular Pap tests (a procedure in which cells are scraped from the cervix and looked at under a microscope).
There are 2 main types of cervical cancers:
- Squamous cell carcinoma, which develops in thin, flat cells that line the inner part of the cervix. About 80% to 90% of cervical cancers are squamous cell carcinomas
- Adenocarcinoma, which develops in the cells that line the mucous-producing glands of the cervix.
Occasionally, the cancer may have characteristics of both types and is called adenosquamous carcinoma or mixed carcinoma.
In the United States, cervical cancer is the fifth most common cancer among women aged 35–54, and the third most common cancer of the female reproductive tract. More than 11,000 new cases of cervical cancer will be diagnosed in the United States. Cervical cancer can be caused by certain types of Human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection or virus.
Virtua Fox Chase Cancer Program
The Virtua Fox Chase Cancer Program offers diagnostic procedures, advanced treatment options, and personalized support services for women with suspected or diagnosed cervical cancer.
Patients receive individualized treatment based on the stage of the cervical cancer as well as their age, health, desire to have children and personal choices. Patients may obtain an outpatient second opinion with a Fox Chase Cancer Center oncologist who comes to Virtua to meet with the patient and family.
The program offers the latest treatment options including:
- High-dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy – a treatment designed to provide a high dose of radiation to the cancer cells while minimizing damage to healthy tissue
- Minimally invasive surgical options coordinated by surgical oncologists and gynecologic oncologists
- Advanced options to preserve fertility during cancer treatments including embryo cryopreservation and sperm banking
- A range of clinical trials through national and regional associations as well as those that originate at Fox Chase Cancer Center
The Virtua Fox Chase Cancer Program has gynecologic oncologists who are trained in pelvic surgery and reconstruction techniques to improve surgical outcomes and minimize the potential effects of surgery to this sensitive area of the body. Oncology certified and advanced practice nurses provide additional support and education to patients and their families.
The interdisciplinary clinical team may also include:
- Urologists and colorectal surgeons
- Radiation oncologists
- Reproductive endocrinologists/fertility specialists
- Medical oncologists
- Oncology social workers
- Dietitians and physical therapists
- Oncology nurse navigators
Cervical Cancer Treatment
Treating cervical cancer requires a team of specialists because the care may include surgery, radiation and drug therapy as well as nursing care and physical, practical, and emotional support. The Virtua Fox Chase Cancer Program provides these services and more in a coordinated and supportive environment.
Virtua Fox Chase Cancer Program's gynecologic oncologists work closely with surgeons to ensure the highest level of coordination in treatment and the most favorable outcomes. The staff also includes surgeons who specialize in pelvic surgery and reconstruction techniques to help improve surgical outcomes and minimize the potential effects of surgery to this sensitive area of the body.
Surgical options may include:
- Minimally invasive procedures
- Salpingo-oophorectomy: Removal of the fallopian tubes and ovaries
- Lymph node biopsy: Testing of the lymph nodes to see if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body