Cervical cancer prognosis

The prognosis for early stage cervical cancer is really good, and that's why going for regular Pap smears is so important. If it's caught early, you not only are likely to keep your uterus, but you will live a normal life, too.

In the US, before the Pap smear became routine in the late 1950s, dying from cervical cancer was common. Now it's rare!

When we talk about survival rates, you'll see "5-year survival" rates. Why 5 years? Well, when you go longer than that, people will die of other things, and so you can't pinpoint cervical cancer as the cause of death. Survival, of course, is highest for the earliest stages.

If you have stage 1A, like I did, the 5-year survival rate is over 95%. That's really a great survival statistic.

In the next stage, 1B, 80-90% of women are still alive after 5 years. For stage 2, survival is between 65-70%. For stage 3, it's only about 40%, and for stage 4, survival at 5 years drops to about 15%.

I asked my doctor when would I be considered "cured." Her answer was 2 years after the last tumor. The doctors will want to follow you for at least 3 years, but some will say that you'll be going to the oncologist forever. Most will tell you that after 5 years, you're just a normal woman again.

I even went for an exam during my pregnancy. Let me tell you, it's weird to be pregnant and sitting in an oncologist's office, but the staff and the doctor loved it.

Treatment is also simpler the earlier you are diagnosed. Remember, cervical cancer is slow-growing, so as long as you go every year or two for a Pap smear, it will be caught early.