Canadian Cancer Society logo

Cervical cancer

You are here: 

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.

Direct extension

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:

  • vagina
  • uterus
  • loose connective tissue around the cervix and uterus (called parametrial tissue)
  • pelvis and sides of the pelvis, or pelvic walls
  • bladder
  • rectum

Lymphatic spread

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)

Distant metastasis

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.

Stories

Dr Senthil Muthuswamy Pancreatic tumours in a dish

Read more

Trusted online community of support

Illustration of computer

Cancerconnection.ca provides a trusted online community for cancer patients, their family and friends.

Learn more