What is the first stage of cervical cancer?

The first stage of cervical cancer, also known as Stage 1, is characterized by cancer that is confined to the cervix and has not spread to any other parts of the body. At this stage, there is the presence of abnormal cells on the surface of the cervix. These cells, known as cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN), may be precancerous, meaning they have the potential to develop into cancer if left untreated. During this stage, the cancer is limited to the cervix and has not yet spread to surrounding tissue or other parts of the body.

State one cancer is further divided into subcategories which are:

  • Stage 1A: The cancer is found only in the cervix and is considered very early. It may not be visible during a pelvic exam and can only be detected through a Pap test or biopsy.
  • Stage 1B: The cancer has grown slightly beyond the cervix and is still considered early stage. It may be visible during a pelvic exam and may be larger than Stage 1A.

In both Stage 1A and 1B, the tumor size is less than 4 cm in size and no lymph node metastases are present.

Symptoms of cervical cancer in the first stage may be minimal or absent, which is why regular screenings and Pap tests are important for early detection.

Stage 1 cervical cancer is usually treated with surgery, combined chemotherapy and radiotherapy (chemoradiotherapy). Other options may include cryotherapy, which freezes the abnormal cells, or a procedure called a loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP), which removes the abnormal cells with a thin wire loop that is heated with electricity.

The prognosis for stage 1A cervical cancer is generally very good, with a high rate of successful treatment and long-term survival.