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Controlling symptoms of advanced cervical cancer

Find out how symptoms of advanced cervical cancer are treated.

Advanced cervical cancer means that a cancer that began in the cervix has spread to at least one other part of the body, such as the liver, lungs or bones.

It might not mean that you have advanced cancer if you have these symptoms. Some symptoms can be caused by other conditions such as coughs, colds or muscle strain.

Tell your doctor or specialist nurse if you're worried about a symptom or if it continues for more than a few days.

Which treatments are available

Symptoms of advanced cervical cancer can be hard to cope with. But doctors and nurses can offer support and treatment to help you.

Treatments such as combined chemotherapy with radiotherapy (chemoradiotherapy) or surgery can sometimes help to shrink the cancer, reduce symptoms and help you feel better. Other treatments such as a stent can treat specific symptoms such as a blockage in the tubes that drain urine from the kidney to the bladder.

You might have one or more symptoms.

Tell your doctor or nurse about any symptoms that you have so they can help you.


If you get pain, it can often be helped by cancer treatment. For example, an enlarged liver may cause pain in your right side or shoulder. The pain can be reduced by chemotherapy, radiotherapy, chemoradiotherapy and sometimes surgery that shrinks the cancer. 

If you have pain that is not controlled with cancer treatment, there are many painkillers available. Pain can usually be well controlled. With good pain control, most people should be able to be free of pain when they are lying or sitting. The first step is to tell your doctor or nurse that you have pain so that they can find the right painkillers for you.

Controlling symptoms

Treatments such as radiotherapy or chemotherapy can sometimes shrink the cancer and reduce symptoms.

Your doctor or specialist nurse can:
  • give you medicines
  • get equipment that you need
  • suggest other ways of controlling your symptoms
  • refer you to a symptom control team (a palliative care team)

Symptom control team

Members of the team are experts at controlling symptoms. They can help you to stay as well as possible for as long as possible. There are symptom control teams in most cancer units. They are also in hospices and many general hospitals.

Most symptom control teams have home care services so they can visit you at home.

Last reviewed: 
17 Jun 2014
  • Cervical cancer: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up

    N. Colombo and others

    Annals of Oncology (2012) 23 (supplement 7): vii27-vii32


    Improving supportive and palliative care for adults with cancer 
    National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), 2004


    A systematic review of acute and late toxicity of concomitant chemoradiation for cervical cancer

    J Kirwan and others

    Radiotherapy and Oncology. 2003 Sep;68(3):217-26

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