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Cervical cancer

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Treatments for recurrent cervical cancer

Recurrent cervical cancer means that the cancer has come back after it has been treated. The following are treatment options for recurrent cervical cancer. Your healthcare team will suggest treatments based on your needs and work with you to develop a treatment plan. You may be offered one or more of the following treatments.

Radiation therapy

You may be offered radiation therapy for recurrent cervical cancer. Radiation therapy may be external beam radiation, brachytherapy or both. Chemotherapy may be given with radiation therapy (chemoradiation). Radiation therapy may be used to relieve pain or control the symptoms of advanced cervical cancer (called palliative therapy).


Chemotherapy may be offered for recurrent cervical cancer to relieve pain or control the symptoms of advanced cervical cancer (called palliative chemotherapy). Chemotherapy may be given with or without radiation therapy (chemoradiation).

The types of chemotherapy drugs used to treat recurrent cervical cancer include:

  • cisplatin (Platinol AQ)
  • carboplatin (Paraplatin, Paraplatin AQ)
  • ifosfamide(Ifex)
  • paclitaxel(Taxol)
  • irinotecan (Camptosar)
  • docetaxel(Taxotere)
  • gemcitabine (Gemzar)
  • 5-fluorouracil (Adrucil, 5-FU)
  • mitomycin (Mutamycin)
  • topotecan (Hycamtin)
  • pemetrexed (Alimta)
  • vinorelbine (Navelbine)
  • epirubicin (Pharmorubicin)

The most common chemotherapy combinations used for recurrent cervical cancer are:

  • cisplatin and paclitaxel
  • cisplatin and ifosfamide, with or without bleomycin (Blenoxane)
  • cisplatin and gemcitabine
  • cisplatin and topotecan
  • carboplatin and paclitaxel
  • cisplatin and 5-fluorouracil
  • cisplatin and vinorelbine


You may be offered chemoradiation to treat recurrent cervical cancer. This treatment combines chemotherapy with radiation therapy. Chemotherapy is given during the same time period as radiation therapy. The radiation used in chemoradiation can be external beam radiation therapy, brachytherapy or both. The same drugs used in chemotherapy may be used during chemoradiation.

Targeted therapy

Targeted therapy may be offered for recurrent cervical cancer. Chemotherapy may be given at the same time as targeted therapy.

Bevacizumab (Avastin) is a type of targeted therapy used to treat recurrent cervical cancer. It may be given with cisplatin or carboplatin and paclitaxel.


Surgery may be offered to some women with recurrent cervical cancer. The following types of surgery can be used.

A pelvic exenteration may be used to treat women with recurrent cervical cancer that comes back in the pelvis but has not spread to the side wall of the pelvis. A pelvic exenteration is not used if cancer comes back in another part of the body. Find out more about pelvic exenteration.

A radical hysterectomy may be offered to women with a recurrence in the cervix or uterus that is smaller than 2 cm and who were previously treated with radiation therapy. Find out more about hysterectomy.

Clinical trials

You may be asked if you want to join a clinical trial for cervical cancer. Find out more about clinical trials.


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Establishing a national caregivers strategy

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The Canadian Cancer Society is actively lobbying the federal government to establish a national caregivers strategy to ensure there is more financial support for this important group of people.

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