Cervical Cancer Treatment Options

More than 12,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer each year. Most of these women are less than 55 years old.

What is Cervical Cancer?

Cervical cancer forms in tissues of the cervix, which connects the uterus and vagina. It is usually a slow-growing cancer that may not have symptoms, but can be found with regular Pap tests. The disease begins on the surface of the cervix, but, if left untreated, the cancer invades more deeply into the cervix.

Cervical Cancer Treatment at Brigham and Women's Hospital

Doctors and other caregivers at Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center will work closely with you and your family to develop a treatment plan suited to your situation. As well as providing specialized medical care, we offer a range of supportive services, including nutritional counseling, emotional and spiritual support, financial advice, and complementary therapies, such as acupuncture and massage.

There are three categories of standard treatment for patients with cervical cancer.


Surgery is sometimes used to treat (remove) cervical cancer and its precursors. Below are some of the more common surgical procedures that may be used:

  • Conization is a procedure to remove a cone-shaped piece of tissue from the cervix and cervical canal to diagnose or treat a cervical condition.
  • Total hysterectomy is the removal of the entire uterus, including the cervix.
  • Radical hysterectomy is the removal the entire uterus, part of the vagina, and a wide area of surrounding tissue. The ovaries, fallopian tubes, or nearby lymph nodes may also be removed. Robotic surgery can be used for both radical and total hysterectomy.
  • Radical Trachelectomy involves the removal of the entire cervix, and surrounding tissue as well as the pelvic lymph nodes. This procedure might be appropriate for patients who desire fertility preservation.
  • Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) uses electrical current passed through a thin wire loop, which acts as a knife, to remove abnormal tissue or cancer.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells, shrink cancer cells, and/or decrease their ability to divide. The two main radiation therapy approaches used at Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center are external radiation therapy (external beam therapy), which beams radiation directly to the cancer cells, and internal radiation therapy (implant therapy), which involves the implantation of pellets that emit radiation.


Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells, shrink cancer cells, and decrease their ability to divide. When drugs are taken by mouth or injected into a vein or muscle (systemic chemotherapy), the drugs enter the bloodstream and can reach cancer cells throughout the body. For regional chemotherapy, the drugs are placed directly into the spinal column, an organ, or a body cavity to target specific areas of the body.

Clinical trials are also available at Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center. These research studies are designed to help improve current treatments or obtain information on new treatments for patients with cancer. Talk to your physician if you're interested in taking part in a clinical trial.

Cancer Care at Brigham and Women's Hospital

Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center is devoted to helping people fight cancer by offering the most advanced treatment with compassion and care. We care for adult patients in 12 specialized centers, each devoted to a different type of cancer.

Part of our commitment to conquering cancer is developing new ways to prevent and screen for cancer, as well as developing new therapies. Milestones include:

  • Development of the CA 125 test, the first and only biomarker for ovarian cancer;
  • Pioneered new approaches in the assessment and treatment of prostate cancer;
  • Development of state-of-the-art surgical techniques for brain surgery.

Patient- and Family-focused Care

BWH has long been committed to not only the care of our patients but also the many other needs that they and their families have. This philosophy of patient- and family-focused care - involving systems and services that emphasize healing in a comfortable, relaxed environment – is a guiding force behind the care we provide at Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center.

Quality of Patient Care

BWH is committed to providing all of our patients with the safest, highest-quality, most-satisfying care possible and following established protocols that have been shown to improve patient outcomes. Our Inpatient Satisfaction Survey, sent to patients' to assess their total care experience, helps us to monitor what we are doing well and what areas may need improvement. We pride ourselves in the Quality of Patient Care we provide and how we are measured compared with other hospitals.

Brigham and Women's Hospital Cancer Team

Our Center features a multidisciplinary team of specialists, including radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, surgeons, physicists, radiologists, interventional radiologists, endoscopists, pathologists, specialized nursing staff, dietitians, physical therapists, and social workers who use a patient-focused approach to deliver the most effective treatment for each patient.

Contact Us

If you believe you should have an evaluation and would like to schedule an appointment with one of our gynecologic cancer experts, call 1-800-294-9999 to speak to one of our knowledgeable coordinators who can help to connect you to the doctor that best meets your needs, or fill out an online appointment request form.

Learn more about Brigham and Women's Hospital

For over a century, a leader in patient care, medical education and research, with expertise in virtually every specialty of medicine and surgery.

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