Stages of cervical cancer

Cervical cancer develops very slowly from abnormal cell changes in the cervix. This type of cancer can affect people of all ages.

Cervical cancer stages

The stage of cervical cancer refers to its size and whether it has spread beyond the area of the body where it first started. Knowing the extent of the cancer helps the doctors decide on the most appropriate treatment for you.

An illustration of the cervix

 

The image shows the lower abdomen, pelvis and the top of the legs from the front. A narrow opening is shown between the legs. This leads into a narrow space shown inside the pelvis. This space is called the vagina. Above the vagina the space narrows until both sides almost touch. Then it opens again to form a hollow, pear-shaped organ called the womb. At either side of the upper end of the womb are two small, solid oval shapes. These are the ovaries. They are connected to either side of the womb by narrow tubes called the fallopian tubes.  An area of the image has been enlarged. This shows a close-up of the narrowest area between the vagina and the womb. The lower end of the womb bulges into the top of the vaginal space. The surfaces of the two sides of the bulge are highlighted. This is the cervix.
Image: Cervix and surrounding structures

 

Cervical cancer is divided into four main stages. Each stage then has further sub-divisions. Your doctors may also use the following names to describe the stage of the cancer:

  • Early-stage cervical cancer – this usually includes stages 1A to 1B1.
  • Locally advanced cervical cancer – this usually includes stages 1B2 to 4A.
  • Advanced-stage or metastatic cervical cancer – this usually means stage 4B.

If the cancer comes back after initial treatment, this is known as recurrent cancer.

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We understand that waiting to know the stage of your cancer can be a worrying time. We're here if you need someone to talk to. You can:

Cervical cancer stage 1

The cancer cells are only within the cervix.

Stage 1 can be further divided into:

Stage 1A

The cancer can only be seen with a microscope or colposcope.

Stage 1A1

The cancer is less than 3mm deep.

Stage 1A2

The cancer is between 3 and 5mm deep.

Stage 1B

The cancer is 5mm or more deep, but still confined to the cervix.

Stage 1B1

The cancer is no larger than 2cm wide.

Stage 1B2

The cancer is between 2 and 4cm wide.

Stage 1B3

The cancer is 4cm or more wide.

Cervical cancer stage 2

The cancer has spread into the upper part of the vagina or the tissues next to the cervix.

Stage 2 can be further divided into:

Stage 2A

The cancer has spread into the upper part of the vagina.

Stage 2A1

The cancer is no larger than 4cm.

Stage 2A2

The cancer is larger than 4cm.

Stage 2B

The cancer has spread into the tissues next to the cervix.

Cervical cancer stage 3

The cancer has spread to the lower part of the vagina, or to the tissues at the sides of the pelvic area (called the pelvic wall), or to nearby lymph nodes

Stage 3 can be divided into the following:

Stage 3A

The cancer has spread into the lower part of the vagina.

Stage 3B

The cancer has spread to the pelvic wall, or is pressing on the tubes that carry urine (pee) from the kidneys to the bladder (ureters). If the tumour is pressing on a ureter, urine may build up in the kidney.

Stage 3C

The cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes.

Stage 3C1

The cancer has spread to lymph nodes in the pelvis. 

Stage 3C2

The cancer has spread to lymph nodes above the pelvis, called the para-aortic lymph nodes.

Cervical cancer stage 4

The cancer has spread to the bladder or bowel or beyond the pelvic area.

Stage 4 can be further divided into:

Stage 4A

The cancer has spread to nearby organs, such as the bladder and bowel.

Stage 4B

The cancer has spread to organs further from the cervix, such as the lungs, liver or bone.

About our information

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    This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been reviewed by expert medical and health professionals and people living with cancer. It has been approved by Senior Medical Editor, Professor Nick Reed, Consultant Clinical Oncologist.

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