What are the Stages of Cervical Cancer Symptoms?

    Cervical cancer like most cancers are categorized using the TNM staging system. The TNM staging system utilizes three categories to determine the progression of a cancer. The factors that are included are tumor size, presence in lymph nodes, and metastasis. All three of these factors interplay into categorizing one’s cancer at a specific stage. Below are the stages of cervical cancer and the associated cervical cancer symptoms that coincide with each stage.

    Stage 0

    Stage 0 cervical cancer is cervical cancer in its very beginning. Sometimes referred to pre-cancerous cells stage 0 simply signifies an abnormal growth within the cervix. These cells do not always develop into full blown cancer, but it is often recommended to have the growth removed. This is usually recommended to ensure that the tumor doesn’t become cancerous and cause more issues. Stage 0 cervical cancer can have a wide variety of symptoms, but the majority od symptoms are minor as this form is not a progressed form of cervical cancer.

    Stage 1

    Stage 1 cervical cancer is broken up into two groups. Stage 1A cervical cancer denotes that the cancer is only viewable using a microscope. Stage 2B refers to a cervical cancer tumor that is visible to the naked eye but less than 4 centimeters in size. With stage 1 forms of cervical carcinoma the typical symptoms are less severe and range from bleeding in between periods to pelvic discomfort.

    Stage 2

    Stage 2 cervical carcinoma like stage 1 is broken up into two distinct categories. The key distinction between these stages are where the carcinomas spread to within the vagina and uterus. Stage 2A cervical cancer is when the cancer spreads to the upper portions of the vaginal canal, while stage 2B is when the cancer begins to encroach into the parametrium. Depending on which form of stage 2 cervical cancer an individual has will often determine the kinds of symptoms they experience. With invasion of the cancer into the vaginal canal one could experience bleeding after intercourse while invasion into the parametrium could increase pelvic pain. 

    Stage 3

    Stage 3 cervical cancer is a further progression of stage 2. If the cancer continues growth down the vaginal canal to two thirds the length it is considered stage 3A. Stage 3B is the continued growth into the pelvic wall. Stage 3B cervical carcinoma can sometimes begin blocking the ureter of one or both sides resulting in buildup of urine in the kidney and an inability to urinate. The symptoms at this stage are that of advanced disease state which include pelvic pain, weight loss, difficulty eliminating urine, or back pain. 

    Stage 4

    At stage 4 cervical carcinoma begins to invade other organs within the body. Stage 4A is the classification of cervical carcinoma that has invaded nearby organs such as the bladder or rectum. Stage 4B is the invasion of cervical cancer beyond the organs of the pelvis and is a true form of metastatic cancer. In Stage 4 patients can experience advanced symptoms of cervical cancer. With the invasion of nearby organs, a vaginal fistula could form resulting in excretions coming from the vagina. Additionally, with metastatic cancer indicators include weight loss, lethargy, and brittle bones.  

    The staging system for cancer classification is important for medical professionals to utilize as it allows physicians to easily and quickly inform colleagues and care givers the cancer state of an individual. This also allows physicians to categorize the cancer and choose the best treatment method for that specific cancer.  By becoming aware of the cervical cancer stages, it will allow you to understand diagnosis and the progression of the cancer. Additionally, becoming aware of the associated symptoms can increase the chances of catching cancer in its earlier stages.