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What Is Cervical Cancer Stage 3?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 23 April 2014
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A diagnosis of cervical cancer stage 3 indicates the cancer has begun to spread but is still in structures that are close to the cervix. For example, when a woman has this stage of cervical cancer, the cancer may have spread to either the lower portion of the vagina or the wall of the pelvis. It has not yet moved on to affect other, more-distant parts of the body, however. Often, cervical cancer stage 3 is separated into two sub-stages: in one, the lower section of the vagina is affected but not the pelvic walls, while in the other, the cancer has invaded the pelvic walls and possibly the pelvic lymph nodes.

There are four stages of cervical cancer. The first stage is the earliest form of the disease and represents the time period during which cervical cancer is most treatable. In the second stage, cancerous cells have moved beyond the cervix but have yet to affect the pelvic wall or the lower section of the patient’s vagina. Stage 3 is the last stage before this type of cancer spreads to organs further from the cervix. It is marked by the spread of cancer into the lower part of the vagina, the pelvic wall, or the lymph nodes in the pelvis.

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Cervical cancer stage 3 is not the most serious stage of the disease. It does, however, represent a progression of the cancer and a worsening prognosis for the patient. As the cancer spreads, the chances of successful treatment decrease. Likewise, the patient’s life expectancy changes as she enters stage-3 cervical cancer and moves toward stage 4. This doesn't, however, mean the doctors cannot treat this stage of cancer.

There are a couple of sub-stages of cervical cancer stage 3. In this stage, an individual can have stage 3A or 3B cancer of the cervix. With stage 3A cervical cancer, the cancerous cells have spread to the lower part of the vagina. At this point, the pelvic wall and the lymph nodes that are near the cervix are not affected. If, on the other hand, the woman has stage 3B cervical cancer, the cancer has invaded the walls of her pelvis and may have blocked her ureters, which are tubes that carry urine to the bladder from the kidneys. In stage 3B, the cancerous cells may have spread to the lymph nodes as well.

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