Cervical cancer is cancer of the lower part of the uterus, called the cervix. Cancer staging provides a standardized system of describing the spread and extent of cancer. The staging of cervical cancer includes stages that range from 0 to IV, with 0 for noninvasive and IV for metastatic cancer, or cancer that has spread to other organs. Accurate staging helps to guide treatment and prognosis.
Stage 0 (Carcinoma in Situ)
Called carcinoma in situ, which means non-invasive cancer; this stage consists of cervical cancer that has not invaded deeper cervical tissues; but remains only in the surface cells of the cervix, according to the American Cancer Society. This stage of cervical cancer may also be called cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) Grade III.
The first stage of invasive cervical cancer, Stage I, has additional classifications separated into Stage IA and Stage IB. In each of these substages include further classifications. In Stage IA1 cervical cancer, the lesion proves less than 3 mm deep and less than 7 mm wide; Stage IA2 is cervical cancer between 3 and 5 mm deep and less than 7 mm wide. In Stage IB1, the cancer becomes visible with the naked eye but less than 4 cm in size; in Stage IB2, the lesion is more than 4 cm. In all classifications of Stage I cervical cancer, no spread to the lymph nodes or distant organs has occurred.
The National Cancer Institute defines Stage II cervical cancer as cancer that has spread past the cervix but has not reached the pelvic wall or the lower third of the vagina. In Stage IIA, cancer has spread to the upper two-thirds of the vagina but not to any tissues around the uterus, whereas in Stage IIB, cancer has also spread to the surrounding tissues around the uterus.
Stage IIIA cervical cancer has spread to the lower third of the vagina, but not to the pelvic wall. Stage IIIB means that cervical cancer has either spread to the pelvic wall, or the tumor has become so big that it blocks the ureters, which can cause the kidneys to stop working. In this sub-stage, cancer may have also spread to pelvic lymph nodes.
The last stage of cervical cancer, Stage IV, is the most advanced stage of cancer. When this stage is diagnosed, the cancer has spread to other organs like the rectum or bladder. Stage IVA cervical cancer has spread to the bladder or rectal wall, and possibly pelvic lymph nodes; Stage IVB cervical cancer consists of cancer that has spread past the lymph nodes in the pelvis to the abdomen, liver or lungs.
About this Author
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and women’s studies, Jaime Herndon pursued a Master of Science in clinical health psychology, and recently completed her M.P.H. in maternal-child health from UNC. Her interests include women’s cancers, pediatric oncology, and women’s health.