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About 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 a while.

If the cancer has come back near to the area where it started (local recurrence), it might be possible to have surgery to remove it and may cure it.

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 (more than 4cm) or 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 1B2 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. It can help to find out more about your cancer and the treatments you might have. Many people find that knowing more about their situation can make it easier to cope.

    Talk to your doctor or nurse to understand:

    • what your diagnosis means
    • what is likely to happen
    • what treatment is available
    • how treatment can help you

    Survival

    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.
    Last reviewed: 
    22 Apr 2020
    Next review due: 
    22 Apr 2023
    • Cervical cancer: ESMO clinical practice guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow up
      C Marth and others
      Annals of Oncology, 2017. Volume 28, Supplement 4

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

    • Management of recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer
      JD Wright
      UpToDate website, accessed April 2020.