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If you have been diagnosed with cervical cancer, your consultant will order more tests (including biopsies, MRIs, PET scans, CT scans and ultrasounds). These tests will help them to find out what type of cervical cancer you have (name), how different the cancer cells look compared with the normal cells (grade), and the extent that the cancer has progressed and if the cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body (stage).
There are two main types of cervical cancer:
Adenosquamous cancers are tumours that contain both squamous and glandular cancer cells. Other rare types of cervical cancer can include clear cell, small cell neuroendocrine carcinomas, lymphomas and sarcomas.
Tumour grading helps the doctor predict how cells may behave. Cells are graded from 1 to 3 depending on how different they look to normal cells under the microscope. Grade 1 tumours tend to be slow growing and don’t look as abnormal as higher grade tumours.
You may be asked to have various diagnostic tests that will help your health care professionals understand your cancer better. These could include: a pelvic examination, an MRI or PET-CT scan, a chest x-ray or blood tests. Your consultant needs information to understand the shape and position of your cancer in relation to the organs within your pelvis, and if the cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body. This process is called staging. Knowing the stage of the disease helps your consultant and the rest of your team to plan your treatment. The presence of cancer in the lymph nodes does not alter the way cervical cancer is staged, but it may change the way the cancer is treated.
The following stages are used to describe cancer of the cervix: