Cervical Cancer

St. James’s Hospital (SJH) Gynaecological Cancer Care Centre is the largest provider in the Republic of Ireland of treatment for malignancy of the reproductive organs: cancer of the womb (uterus), cervix, ovary, vagina and vulva.  Our centre provides a regional and national service and is accredited by the NCCP (the HSE’s National Cancer Control Programme) for complex radical gynaecological surgeries. International standards of treatment apply, and the service is supported by research and teaching activities through Trinity College Dublin and the Cancer Trials Research Office at SJH.

Over 300 women with gynaecological cancer are referred to the centre annually. Cancer of the endometrium (lining of the womb) is the most common cancer, followed by cancer of the ovary/fallopian tube, then cervical cancer. Cancers of the vulva and vagina are less common. Women are referred by their general practitioners or by gynaecologists at their local hospital. A Multi-Disciplinary Team of doctors plans and provides the cancer care, and surgery is performed at SJH. Some of the treatments such as chemotherapy can be given in other local regional hospitals. Radiotherapy treatment is given at St Luke’s Hospital (SJH and in Rathgar, Dublin). When treatment is completed, long-term follow-up care is often provided at the patient’s local hospital.  Follow-up visits may go on for five years or longer.

What is Cervical Cancer?

The cervix is the lower part of the womb (uterus) and is often called the neck of the womb. Each year, over 300 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the Republic of Ireland. It usually occurs in women over the age of 30. The highest rates occur between the ages of 45 and 55, but it can also affect younger and older women.

Very early-stage cervical cancer may have no symptoms, which means it is important to have regular cervical screening, so that any cell changes can be picked up early. Cervix cancer may be suspected after an abnormal cervical smear test. A biopsy is important to make the diagnosis and is usually performed at a colposcopy clinic under local anesthetic. There are two common types of cervix cancer: Squamous Carcinoma and Adenocarcinoma. Following a diagnosis, you will have general blood tests and specific radiological tests to check whether the cancer has spread beyond the cervix.