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Stage 3

Stage 3 means the cancer has spread from the cervix into the structures around it. You usually have a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy (chemoradiotherapy) for stage 3 cervical cancer.

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 3 means the cancer has spread away from the cervix and into surrounding structures in the pelvis (the area between the hip bones).

It might have grown down into the lower part of the vagina and the muscles and ligaments that line the pelvis (pelvic wall). Or it might have grown up to block the tubes that drain the kidneys (the ureters).

It can be divided into stage 3A and stage 3B.

Stage 3A

Stage 3A is when the cancer has spread to the lower third of the vagina but not the pelvic wall.

Diagram showing stage 3A cervical cancer

Stage 3B

Stage 3B means the tumour has grown through to the pelvic wall or is blocking 1 or both of the tubes that drain the kidneys (the ureters).

Diagram showing stage 3B 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

You usually have a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy (chemoradiotherapy) for stage 3 cervical cancer.

Combined radiotherapy and chemotherapy (chemoradiotherapy)

With this treatment, 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: 
06 Feb 2020
  • Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology (11th edition)
    VT DeVita , TS Lawrence, SA Rosenberg
    Wolters Kluwer, 2019

  • 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
    C Marth and others 
    Annals of Oncology, 2017. Volume 28, Supplement 4

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