When cervical cancer is diagnosed, it is vital to determine if the cancer has spread. Your treatment team may do more tests to determine this. Additionally, specific procedures during surgery may be performed to determine the extent of the disease. This process is called staging. Staging helps to determine the exact extent of your cancer and what treatment plan is best for you.
Following surgery, your cancer will be categorized into Stage I, II, III, or IV, illustrated below. The cancer will also be assigned a grade. Grade refers to how abnormal the cells appear under a microscope. Low grade tumors, also called grade 1, have features that resemble normal cervical cells. In contrast, in high grade tumors (grade 3) the microscopic appearance is greatly altered from normal.
It is important that your surgery be performed by a gynecologic oncologist, a physician with special training in the care of vaginal reproductive systems. Studies show that patients treated by gynecologic oncologists at high-volume centers have improved outcomes.