Cervical Cancer: A Guide for Patients

ESMO Guides for Patients are designed to assist patients, their relatives and caregivers to better understand the nature of different types of cancer and evaluate the best available treatment choices.

What is cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer forms in the tissues of the cervix and is almost always caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. HPV vaccines are available that provide protection against HPV infection and decrease the incidence of high-grade cervical abnormalities. There are three categories of cervical cancer: squamous tumours, glandular tumours (adenocarcinoma) and other epithelial tumours (adenosquamous carcinoma, neuroendocrine tumours and undifferentiated carcinoma). In its early stages, cervical cancer often has no symptoms, and is most likely to be detected through cervical screening tests. Treatment for cervical cancer depends upon the size, location and stage of the tumour. 

Beyond definition of cervical cancer, in this guide for patients you can find answers to the questions such as:

  • How common is cervical cancer?
  • What causes cervical cancer?
  • How is cervical cancer diagnosed?
  • How will my treatment be determined?
  • What are the treatment options for cervical cancer?
  • Cervical cancer and pregnancy
  • Clinical trials
  • Supplementary interventions
  • What are the possible side effects of the treatments?
  • What happens after my treatment has finished?
  • Support groups

This guide has been prepared to help you, your friends and your family better understand the nature of cervical cancer and the treatments that are available. The medical information described in this document is based on ESMO clinical practice guidelines for the management of early and advanced cervical cancer. We recommend that you ask your doctor about the tests and types of treatments available in your country for your type and stage of cervical cancer.

Published in 2018.