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Cervical Cancer Health Center

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Cervical Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - In Situ Cervical Cancer Treatment

Consensus guidelines have been issued for managing women with cervical intraepithelial neoplasia or adenocarcinoma in situ.[1] Properly treated, tumor control of in situ cervical carcinoma should be nearly 100%. Either expert colposcopic-directed biopsy or cone biopsy is required to exclude invasive disease before therapy is undertaken. A correlation between cytology and colposcopic-directed biopsy is also necessary before local ablative therapy is done. Unrecognized invasive disease treated with inadequate ablative therapy may be the most common cause of failure.[2] Failure to identify the disease, lack of correlation between the Pap smear and colposcopic findings, adenocarcinoma in situ, or extension of disease into the endocervical canal makes a laser, loop, or cold-knife conization mandatory.

The choice of treatment depends on the extent of disease and several patient factors, including age, cell type, desire to preserve fertility, and medical condition.

Recommended Related to Cervical Cancer

Understanding Cervical Cancer -- the Basics

Cervical cancer is cancer of the cervix, the narrow neck at the lower part of a woman's uterus, just above the vagina (Figure 1). The cervix connects the uterus to the vagina. Approximately eight out of 10 cervical cancers originate in surface cells lining the cervix (squamous cell carcinomas). These cancers do not form suddenly. Over time, healthy cervical cells can become abnormal in appearance -- this is called dysplasia. Although these cells are not cancerous, they can eventually become...

Read the Understanding Cervical Cancer -- the Basics article > >

Standard Treatment Options forIn SituCervical Cancer

Standard treatment options for in situcervical cancer include the following:

  1. Conization.
    • Cold-knife conization (scalpel).
    • Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP).[3,4]
    • Laser therapy.[5]
  2. Hysterectomy for postreproductive patients.
  3. Internal radiation therapy for medically inoperable patients.

Hysterectomy is the standard treatment for patients with adenocarcinoma in situ. The disease, which originates in the endocervical canal, may be more difficult to completely excise with a conization procedure. Conization may be offered to select patients with adenocarcinoma in situ who desire future fertility.


When the endocervical canal is involved, laser or cold-knife conization may be used for selected patients to preserve the uterus, avoid radiation therapy, and more extensive surgery.[6]

In selected cases, the outpatient LEEP may be an acceptable alternative to cold-knife conization. This procedure requires only local anesthesia and obviates the risks associated with general anesthesia for cold-knife conization.[7,8,9] However, controversy exists about the adequacy of LEEP as a replacement for conization; LEEP is unlikely to be sufficient for patients with adenocarcinoma in situ.[10]

Evidence (conization using LEEP):

  1. A trial comparing LEEP with cold-knife cone biopsy showed no difference in the likelihood of complete excision of dysplasia.[6]
  2. Two case reports suggested that the use of LEEP in patients with occult invasive cancer led to an inability to accurately determine depth of invasion when a focus of the cancer was transected.[11]
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