Stage 1 means that the cancer is only in the neck of the womb (cervix).
The main treatment is surgery. You might also have combined radiotherapy and chemotherapy (chemoradiotherapy) if you have stage 1B cervical cancer.
What is stage 1 cervical cancer?
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
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.
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.
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:
- combined chemotherapy and radiotherapy (chemoradiotherapy)
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.