Cervical Cancer: Stages

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 07/2017

ON THIS PAGE: You will learn about how doctors describe a cancer’s growth or spread. This is called the stage. Use the menu to see other pages.

Staging is a way of describing where the cancer is located, if or where it has spread, and whether it is affecting other parts of the body.

Doctors use diagnostic tests to find out the cancer's stage, so staging may not be complete until all of the tests are finished. Knowing the stage helps the doctor to decide what kind of treatment is best and can help predict a patient's prognosis, which is the chance of recovery. There are different stage descriptions for different types of cancer. For cervical cancer, the staging system developed by the International Federation of Obstetrics and Gynecology (Federation Internationale de Gynecologie et d'Obstetrique or FIGO) is used.

FIGO stages for cervical cancer

Doctors assign the stage of the cancer by evaluating the tumor and whether the cancer has spread to lymph nodes and other parts of the body.

Stage I: The cancer has spread from the cervix lining into the deeper tissue but is still just found in the uterus. It has not spread to lymph nodes or other parts of the body. This stage may be described in more detail (see below).

  • Stage IA: The cancer is diagnosed only by microscopy, which is viewing cervical tissue or cells under a microscope. No lymph nodes are involved, and there is no distant spread.

  • Stage IA1: There is a cancerous area of 3 millimeters (mm) or smaller in depth and 7 mm or smaller in length. No lymph nodes are involved, and there is no distant spread.

  • Stage IA2: There is a cancerous area larger than 3 mm but not larger than 5 mm in depth and 7 mm or smaller in length. No lymph nodes are involved, and there is no distant spread.

  • Stage IB: In this stage, the doctor can see the lesion, and the cancer is found only in the cervix. Or there is a lesion that can be seen using a microscope, and it is larger than a stage IA2 tumor (see above). The cancer may have been found through a physical examination, laparoscopy, or other imaging method (see Diagnosis). No lymph nodes are involved, and there is no distant spread.

  • Stage IB1: The tumor is 4 centimeters (cm) or smaller. No lymph nodes are involved, and there is no distant spread.

  • Stage IB2: The tumor is larger than 4 cm. No lymph nodes are involved, and there is no distant spread.

Stage II: The cancer has spread beyond the cervix to nearby areas, such as the vagina or tissue near the cervix, but it is still inside the pelvic area. It has not spread to lymph nodes or other parts of the body. This stage may be described in more detail (see below).

  • Stage IIA: The tumor has not spread to the tissue next to the cervix, also called the parametrial area. No lymph nodes are involved, and there is no distant spread.

  • Stage IIA1: The tumor is 4 cm or smaller. No lymph nodes are involved, and there is no distant spread.

  • Stage IIA2: The tumor is larger than 4 cm. No lymph nodes are involved, and there is no distant spread.

  • Stage IIB: The tumor has spread to the parametrial area. No lymph nodes are involved, and there is no distant spread.

Stage III: The tumor has spread to the pelvic wall, and/or involves the lower third of the vagina, and/or causes swelling of the kidney, called hydronephrosis, or stops a kidney from functioning. No lymph nodes are involved, and there is no distant spread.

  • Stage IIIA: The tumor involves the lower third of the vagina, but it has not grown into the pelvic wall. No lymph nodes are involved, and there is no distant spread.

  • Stage IIIB: The tumor has grown into the pelvic wall and/or affects the kidneys, but it has not spread to the lymph nodes or distant sites. Or, the cancer has spread to lymph nodes in the pelvis, but not distant sites, and the tumor can be any size.

Stage IVA: The cancer has spread to the bladder or rectum and may or may not have spread to the lymph nodes, but it has not spread to other parts of the body.

Stage IVB: The cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

Recurrent: Recurrent cancer is cancer that has come back after treatment. If the cancer does return, there will be another round of tests to learn about the extent of the recurrence. These tests and scans are often similar to those done at the time of the original diagnosis.

Information about the cancer’s stage will help the doctor recommend a specific treatment plan. The next section in this guide is Treatment Options. You may use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.