The standard treatment options for cervical cancer will vary based on the cancer's diagnosis stage. However, most individuals will undergo a combination of chemoradiation therapy and surgery. These procedures can be incredibly costly and range on average from $2,000 to $50,000 annually.
Treatment Options and Average Cost Based on Stage
Your treatment options are based on several factors. Primarily, your physician will stage your cancer and determine the most effective and safest therapy. The median cost for patients during their first year of treatment after diagnosis is $56,250.
Common Treatment Procedures and Their Respective Costs
The following list outlines the various treatment procedures that can be provided to cervical cancer patients and their respective average costs.
|Conization (surgical removal of precancerous cells from the cervix)||$554 - $1,603|
|Hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus)||$11,148 - $15,849|
|Trachelectomy (surgical removal of the cervix)||$19,100|
|Brachytherapy (internal radiation)||$8,610|
|External beam radiation||$4,055|
|Intensity-modulated radiotherapy (photon and proton radiation)||Additional $15,000 - $20,000|
Factors that Influence the Cost of Cervical Cancer Treatment
Many factors can influence the cost of your cervical cancer treatment. The cost will largely depend on when you are diagnosed. Cervical cancer diagnosed early and not widespread can be curable with surgery. This would limit your expenses as you would typically not undergo intensive systemic treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation. Insurance status can also significantly affect the cost of your cervical cancer treatment.
Common Treatment Procedures by Stage
The following chart outlines the typical treatment options for patients based on their cervical cancer stage. Stage 0 on in situ cervical carcinoma means that the cancer is noninvasive and still confined to your cervix. This means that it is likely curable with surgery with the possible addition of radiation, dependent on the discretion of your oncologist. As the stages progress, the cancer becomes more severe and/or widespread.
|Stage 0 or In situ||Conization|
|Internal radiation therapy|
|Stage IA: a small of amount of cancer with tissue invasion < 5 millimeters.||Conization|
Stage IB: a tumor that has not yet spread to the upper vagina or the uterus.
Stage IIA: cancer that has spread to the upper vagina but not to the uterus.
|Hysterectomy and Lymphadenectomy|
|Radiation therapy alone|
|Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)|
Stage IIB: cancer that has spread to the tissue around the uterus.
Stage III: cancer that has spread to the lower vagina or pelvic wall and/or lymph nodes.
Stage IVA: cancer that has spread to nearby organs (bladder or rectum).
|Stage IVB: cancer that has spread to other organs (liver, lungs, bones) and/or distant lymph nodes||Palliative radiation therapy|
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Insurance Status and Financial Assistance
If you have an insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), cervical cancer screening tests will be covered under your plan. Medicare and Medicaid in all 50 states also cover screening for cervical cancer.
For uninsured individuals, there are also several options for free or low-cost cervical cancer screening. Federally-funded health centers will allow low-income individuals to pay what they can afford based on income. You can utilize this link to help find a federally-funded health center near you. Planned parenthood also offers cervical cancer screenings and HPV vaccines. Check here to find a health center near you.
Additionally, the Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment program offers full Medicaid benefits to uninsured individuals needing cervical or breast cancer treatment. This program is application only, and individuals need to meet the following criteria:
- Under age 65
- U.S. citizen or qualified non-citizen
- A resident of a state that participates in this program
- Has or is applying for a social security number
Cervical Cancer Treatment Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The following section will answer some frequently asked questions about cervical cancer treatment and prevention.
How can cervical cancer be prevented?
The best ways to prevent cervical cancer are to get vaccinated against HPV and to have consistent cervical cancer screening tests. HPV, or human papillomavirus, can cause cervical cancer. As such, HPV vaccination is recommended for everyone through age 26. HPV vaccination can be started at age 9, and doctors recommend it for children aged 11 to 12. Unvaccinated adults aged 26-45 should talk to their physician about possible HPV vaccination based on risk and physician discretion.
Two types of screening tests are primarily recommended for cervical cancer prevention. These tests are the Pap test or Pap smear and an HPV test. The Pap test screens for precancers that can manifest as changes in the cervix. The HPV test will screen for signs of HPV. If your tests are abnormal, follow up with your doctor about the next steps.
How long is cervical cancer treatment for?
The duration of cervical cancer treatment can vary drastically based on the severity and progression of your disease. However, if only surgical intervention is required, your treatment duration will be shorter depending on the type of surgery. For instance, you will likely need 6-8 weeks to recover if you undergo a hysterectomy.
It is important to note that chemo and radiation can significantly impact your physical capabilities. You will likely need a break from regular activities for an extended time during and after your treatment.
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What chemotherapy is used for cervical cancer? What are the side effects?
The chemotherapy agents most commonly used for cervical cancer include cisplatin, carboplatin, paclitaxel, and topotecan. Sometimes combinations of these drugs will be used, and agents like cisplatin can be given with radiation. Some side effects to be wary of are:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Hair loss or alopecia
- Mouth sores
- Loss of appetite
- Bleeding or bruising
Although these side effects tend to be severe, there are several supportive measures that your clinical team can take to help alleviate some pain or discomfort. Chemotherapy can be intense but can put your cancer into remission and allow you to lead a normal life post-recovery.
What is the life expectancy of a patient with cervical cancer?
Cervical cancer life expectancy depends on the stage of the disease. If diagnosed early, the 5-year survival rate is 92%. If the cancer has spread to lymph nodes or nearby tissues or organs, the 5-year survival rate is 59%.
A cervical cancer diagnosis can be incredibly daunting. However, there are several different treatment options for this type of cancer. Your medical team will help you select the most effective and safe treatment. Cervical cancer treatment can be intense and also costly. Still, several federal and local programs can provide financial support.
Additionally, early diagnosis is essential for positive outcomes of cervical cancer treatment. HPV vaccination and consistent screenings are integral to early diagnosis and prevention of cervical cancer. Mira is an excellent resource for underinsured or uninsured individuals. For an average of $45/month, Mira provides low-cost and affordable screenings, laboratory tests, prescriptions, and access to physician consultations. Take control of your health and sign up for Mira today.
Sophie is a 2024 Pharm D. candidate studying pharmacy at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. She has a passion for healthcare and writing and hopes to make meaningful contributions to healthcare transparency and accessibility. In her free time, she likes to take care of her houseplants, cook, and hang out with her cat.