What is advanced cervical cancer?

Advanced cervical cancer means the cancer has spread from the cervix to another area of the body such as the lungs.

Sometimes cancer is advanced when it is first diagnosed. 

Cancers that have spread to another part of the body are called:

  • secondary cancer
  • metastases
  • metastatic cancer

Unfortunately advanced cancer can’t usually be cured. But treatment might control it, help symptoms, and improve your quality of life for some time.

Where cervical cancer spreads

Cervical cancer most commonly spreads to the:

  • lymph nodes
  • the space between the hip bones (pelvis)
  • tummy (abdomen)
  • liver
  • lungs
  • bones

Locally advanced cancer

If you have been diagnosed with a locally advanced cancer, this generally means you have a large tumour within the cervix and it has grown into the tissues around the cervix. The cancer hasn’t spread to other organs. This is different to an advanced (metastatic) cancer.  

Locally advanced cervical cancer is anything from stage 2B to stage 4A.

How you might feel

Finding out that you can’t be cured is distressing and can be a shock. It’s common to feel uncertain and anxious. It's normal to not be able to think about anything else.

Lots of information and support is available to you, your family and friends. Some people find it helpful to find out more about their cancer and the treatments they might have. Many people find that knowing more about their situation can make it easier to cope.

    Talk to your doctor or specialist nurse to understand:

    • what your diagnosis means

    • what is likely to happen

    • what treatment is available

    • how treatment can help you

    • what the side effects of the treatment are


    Many people want to know what the outlook is and how their cancer will develop. This is different for each person. Your cancer specialist has all the information about you and your cancer. They're the best person to discuss this with.

    You can also talk to your specialist nurse.

    For information and support, you can phone the Cancer Research UK nurses on 0808 800 4040, from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.
    • Cervical Cancer Guidelines: Recommendations for Practice (May 2020)

      British Gynaecological Cancer Society (BGCS)

      Accessed November 2023

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

    • Cancer of the cervix uteri: 2021 update

      N Bhatla and others

      International Journal of Gynaecology and Obstetrics Special Issue: FIGO Cancer Report 2021, October 2021. Volume 155, Issue S1, Pages: 28 to 44

    • Cervical cancer

      BMJ Best Practice

      Accessed November 2023

    • The information on this page is based on literature searches and specialist checking. We used many references and there are too many to list here. If you need additional references for this information please contact patientinformation@cancer.org.uk with details of the particular risk or cause you are interested in.

    Last reviewed: 
    22 Nov 2023
    Next review due: 
    22 Nov 2026

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