Women with cervical cancer may have questions about their prognosis and survival. Prognosis and survival depend on many factors. Only a doctor familiar with a person's medical history, type of cancer, stage, characteristics of the cancer, treatments chosen and response to treatment can put all of this information together with survival statistics to arrive at a prognosis.
A prognosis is the doctor's best estimate of how cancer will affect a person, and how it will respond to treatment. A prognostic factor is an aspect of the cancer or a characteristic of the person that the doctor will consider when making a prognosis. A predictive factor influences how a cancer will respond to a certain treatment. Prognostic and predictive factors are often discussed together, and they both play a part in deciding on a treatment plan and a prognosis.
The following are prognostic factors for cervical cancer.
Tumour size and volume
Smaller tumour size and volume is a more favourable prognostic factor than large tumour size and volume. Size refers to the tumour's largest dimension. Volume refers to all three dimensions (height, width and thickness).
The stage of cervical cancer is the most important prognostic factor. Early stage cervical cancer has a more favourable prognosis. Tumours that invade both sides of the pelvis (pelvic walls) or the loose connective tissue around the cervix and uterus (parametrial tissue) have less favourable outcomes. Cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes or to other areas of the body has a poorer prognosis.
Cervical cancer with a low grade has a more favourable prognosis. Grade 3 tumours have a greater risk of metastasis and a less favourable prognosis. Grade as a prognostic factor appears to be more important for adenocarcinoma of the cervix.
Type of tumour
Small cell carcinoma and glassy cell carcinoma are aggressive tumours that have a less favourable prognosis compared to other types of cervical cancer, even at early stage disease.
Women with anemia do not seem to do as well and have a poorer outcome than women who do not have anemia. It is not known why anemia has this effect. This effect is not reversible even with a blood transfusion.