Cervical cancer stages
This page tells you about the stages of cervical cancer. You can find information about
Cervical cancer stages
The stage of a cancer tells the doctor how far it has spread. It is important because treatment is often decided according to the stage of a cancer. If you have had an abnormal cervical screening test and your doctor has said you have carcinoma in situ (CIN3) you can find information on page about treatment for abnormal cervical cells. Carcinoma in situ is not a cancer but in some women it will develop into cancer if left untreated.
The stages of cervical cancer are numbered from 1 to 4. Each stage is sometimes divided into A and B.
- Stage 1 – The cancer is contained within the cervix (neck of the womb).
- Stage 2 – The cancer has begun to spread outside the cervix into the surrounding tissues.
- Stage 3 – The cancer has spread away from the area surrounding the cervix. It may have grown down into the lower part of the vagina and the muscles and ligaments that line the pelvis (pelvic wall). And it may have grown up to block the tubes that drain the kidneys (the ureters).
- Stage 4 – This stage is advanced cervical cancer. The cancer has spread to other body organs outside the cervix and womb.
You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the treating cervical cancer section.
Your doctor will use tests to help stage your cancer. The stage of a cancer tells the doctor how far it has spread. It is important because treatment is often decided according to the stage of a cancer. Doctors use different systems to stage cancers. The system usually used for cervical cancer numbers the different stages from 1 to 4.
You can read detailed information about staging cancers.
Carcinoma in situ means that some of the cells of the cervix have cancerous changes. But the abnormal cells are all contained within the surface layer of the cervix. Carcinoma in situ is not a cancer but in some women the changes will develop into a cancer after some years. It is important to have treatment as soon as possible for carcinoma in situ. As long as the affected area is removed, cancer can be prevented. Carcinoma in situ can be found during cervical screening tests. We have information about abnormal screening results on our cervical screening page.
Stage 1 means that the cancer is just in the neck of the womb. It is often divided into
- Stage 1A
- Stage 1B
These days, stage 1A and 1B are both divided into two smaller groups
- Stage 1A1 and stage 1A2
- Stage 1B1 and stage 1B2
In stage 1A the growth is so small it can only be seen with a microscope (or colposcope). 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.
In stage 1B the cancerous areas are larger, but the cancer is still only in the tissues of the cervix and has not usually spread. It can usually be seen without a microscope, but not always. In stage 1B1 the cancer is no larger than 4 centimetres (cm). In stage 1B2 the cancer is larger than 4cm across.
In stage 2 cervical cancer, the cancer has begun to spread outside the neck of the womb into the surrounding tissues. But it has not grown into the muscles or ligaments that line the pelvis (pelvic wall), or to the lower part of the vagina. Stage 2 can be divided into
- Stage 2A
- Stage 2B
In stage 2A the cancer has spread down into the top of the vagina.
Stage 2A is divided into
- Stage 2A1
- Stage 2A2
In stage 2A1 the cancer is 4 cm or less. In stage 2A2 the cancer is more than 4 cm.
In stage 2B there is spread up into the tissues around the cervix.
Stage 2B cervical cancer is usually treated with chemoradiation. Research studies have shown that this combined treatment can improve the survival rates of stage 2 cervical cancer.
In stage 3 cervical cancer, it has spread away from the cervix and into surrounding structures in the pelvic area. It may have grown down into the lower part of the vagina and the muscles and ligaments that line the pelvis (pelvic wall). And it may have grown up to block the tubes that drain the kidneys (the ureters). It can be divided into
- Stage 3A
- Stage 3B
Stage 3A is when the cancer has spread to the lower third of the vagina but not the pelvic wall.
Stage 3B means the tumour has grown through to the pelvic wall or is blocking one or both of the tubes that drain the kidneys.
Stage 4 cervical cancer is advanced cancer. The cancer has spread to other body organs outside the cervix and womb. It can be divided into
- Stage 4A
- Stage 4B
Stage 4A is when the cancer has spread to nearby organs such as the bladder or rectum (back passage).
If the cancer has spread to organs further away, such as the lungs, your doctor may call it stage 4B.
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