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If cervical cancer spreads
Cancer cells can spread from the cervix to other parts of the body. The new tumour is called a metastasis or secondary tumour. If more than one tumour develops in another part of the body, they are called metastases.
Understanding how a type of cancer usually grows and spreads helps your healthcare team plan your treatment and future care. Doctors usually describe cervical cancer spread based on the structures the tumour grows into or where the cancer cells spread.
Once cervical cancer has spread into the stromal tissue (the supporting connective tissue layer of the cervix), it can then grow into the following nearby organs and tissues:
- loose connective tissue around the cervix and uterus (called parametrial tissue)
- pelvis and sides of the pelvis, or pelvic walls
Cancer cells can spread from a tumour in the cervix to nearby and distant lymph nodes. Once in the lymph nodes, the cells can travel through the lymphatic system to other parts of the body.
The most common lymph nodes where cervical cancer spreads are:
- in the pelvis (called pelvic lymph nodes)
- around the abdominal part of the aorta in the back of the abdomen (called para-aortic lymph nodes)
- in the chest (called mediastinal lymph nodes)
- above the collar bone (supraclavicular lymph nodes)
Cervical cancer can also spread to distant organs, including the:
Cancer that has spread to lymph nodes outside the pelvis is considered a distant metastasis.
Support from someone who has ‘been there’
The Canadian Cancer Society’s peer support program is a telephone support service that matches cancer patients and their caregivers with specially trained volunteers.