Staging

The stage of cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. refers to the extent of spread. In general terms, the lower the stage, the more localised the cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. is and the better the outlook. Cervical cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. is staged by the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO).

The FIGO system uses the findings from physical examination, colposcopyClose examination of the cervix of the uterus using a magnifying instrument with attached light source, known as a colposcope., biopsyThe removal of a small sample of cells or tissue so that it may be examined under a microscope. The term may also refer to the tissue sample itself. and further tests such as chest X-rayA type of electromagnetic radiation used to produce images of the body. to determine if the cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. has spread beyond the cervixAny neck-like structure; most commonly refers to the neck of the uterus. and, if so, how far. Blood tests may also help with the assessment.

The FIGO staging system is summarised as follows:

  • Stage I: The tumour is confined to the cervixAny neck-like structure; most commonly refers to the neck of the uterus.
  • Stage II: The tumour extends beyond the cervixAny neck-like structure; most commonly refers to the neck of the uterus., but not as far as the wall of the pelvis
  • Stage III: The tumour extends as far as the wall of the pelvis
  • Stage IV: The tumour extends beyond the pelvis, or is causing symptoms that suggest that it may have invaded the bladderThe organ that stores urine. or rectum.

When the results came back I was told I had stage 3 cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body., at which I panicked Marie