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Stage 1

Stage 1 means that the cancer is only in the neck of the womb (cervix). Read about stage 1 cervical cancer and how it is treated.

What is it

The stage of a cancer tells you how big it is and whether it has spread. It helps your doctor decide which treatment you need.

Doctors use the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) staging system for cervical cancer. There are 4 stages, numbered 1 to 4. 

Stage 1 means that your cancer is within the neck of the womb (cervix). It hasn’t spread to nearby tissues or other organs. It is often divided into: 

  • stage 1A
  • stage 1B

Stage 1A

In stage 1A the growth is so small that it can only be seen with a microscope or colposcope. It can be divided into 2 smaller groups:

  • stage 1A1
  • stage 1A2

Stage 1A1 means the cancer has grown less than 3 millimetres (mm) into the tissues of the cervix, and it is less than 7mm wide.

Stage 1A2 means the cancer has grown between 3 and 5 mm into the cervical tissues, but it is still less than 7mm wide.

Diagram showing stage 1A cervical cancer

Stage 1B

In stage 1B the cancerous areas are larger, but the cancer is still only in the tissues of the cervix and has not spread. It can usually be seen without a microscope, but not always. It can be divided into 2 groups:

  • stage 1B1
  • stage 1B2

In stage 1B1 the cancer is no larger than 4 centimetres (cm).

In stage 1B2 the cancer is larger than 4cm across.

Diagram showing stage 1B cervical cancer

Treatment

The stage of your cancer helps your doctor to decide which treatment you need. Treatment also depends on:

  • your type of cancer (the type of cells the cancer started in)
  • where the cancer is
  • other health conditions that you have

Stage 1 cervical cancer is usually treated with: 

  • surgery
  • combined chemotherapy and radiotherapy (chemoradiotherapy)

Surgery

Surgery for early cervical cancer usually involves removing your cervix and womb (hysterectomy). For some very early cervical cancers, it might be possible to just remove most of the cervix, but leave enough behind so that you might be able to become pregnant and have a baby afterwards. This is called a radical trachelectomy.

For some stage 1A1 cancers, it might be possible to remove all of the cancer with just a large loop excision of the transformation zone (LLETZ) or cone biopsy. These treatments are also used for women with abnormal cervical cells that are picked up through cervical screening.

Combined radiotherapy and chemotherapy (chemoradiotherapy)

You might have chemoradiotherapy for stage 1B cervical cancers. With this treatment, you have chemotherapy during your course of radiotherapy.

You have daily external radiotherapy for 5 days every week, for around 5 weeks. You also have a boost of internal radiotherapy (brachytherapy) at the end of your course.

During your course of radiotherapy, you also have chemotherapy once a week or once every 2 or 3 weeks. This depends on the chemotherapy drugs you have.

Other stages

Last reviewed: 
30 May 2017
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    VT DeVita , TS Lawrence, SA Rosenberg
    Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, 2015

  • Cancer and its Management (7th edition)
    J Tobias and D Hochhauser
    Wiley-Blackwell, 2015

  • Cervical cancer: ESMO clinical practice guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow up
    N Colombo and others 
    Annals of Oncology, 2012. Volume 23, Supplement 7

  • Fertility-sparing management in cervical cancer: balancing oncologic outcomes with reproductive success
    K Willows and others
    Gynecologic Oncology Research and Practice, 2016. Volume 3, Issue 9

  • NHS Cervical Screening Programme: Colposcopy and Screening Management (3rd edition)
    Public Health England, 2016

  • Cervical cancer 
    PL Martin-Hirsch and NJ Wood
    BMJ Clinical Evidence, 2011. Volume 2011, Issue 0818

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