Cervical Cancer

 Know Everything About Cervical Cancer – Blogs By Experts

Cervical Cancer – its causes and prevention

Cervical cancer is responsible for 6.6% of female cancer deaths worldwide.

Cervical cancer occurs in the cervix cells due to the uncontrolled division and growth of abnormal cells. It results in excessive cell building up that forms a lump or tumor.

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Cervical cancer, its types and staging

Every year about 500,000 women worldwide are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and more than 270,000 die from it.

The cervix is a female reproductive part. It connects the uterus to the vagina. The cervix comprises two parts and is covered with two different cells.

The endocervix is the cervix opening that opens into your uterus and is covered with glandular cells.

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Cervical Cancer – Symptoms

Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women and has the highest incidence and mortality rate.

Cervical cancer starts in the cells lining the cervix. Cervix is a part of the female reproductive tract. It is located at the lower part of your uterus and connects to the vagina.

Cancer starts when cells in your body grow uncontrollably; this leads to the formation of a mass of cells or a tumor.

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Cervical Cancer – Treatment Options

If detected earlier, cervical cancer is one of the most curable and preventable cancers.

There are many options available for the treatment of cervical cancer like surgery, radiotherapy, immunotherapy, chemotherapy, and combinations of these options. Your treatment depends upon several factors like the stage of your disease, your age, and your overall health.

If cancer is detected in the early stages, it has a reasonable success rate and as the cancer advances, the success rate tends to lower.

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Watch the videos to know about various aspects of Cervical Cancer

Videos from Divakars Hospital Youtube Channel

Q&As on Cervical Cancer

What are the signs and symptoms of cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer shows a range of symptoms. Precancerous lesions show no unusual signs and symptoms. The early stage of cervical cancer show symptoms including pain in your pelvic region, unexplained bleeding after sexual intercourse, pain after intercourse, vaginal discharge that is unusual in color, consistency, and odor, bleeding after menopause, and burning and itching sensation in your vagina.

The advanced stage of cervical cancer shows symptoms like swelling in your legs, unexplained weight loss, loss of appetite, fatigue, bone pain, problem in urinating and bowel movement. Symptoms may also depend on the organ of metastasis like the liver, lungs, and rectum.

Which is the most common risk factor associated with cervical cancer?

There are many risk factors associated with cervical cancer. The most common risk factor is HPV infection. The association of HPV with cervical cancer is certain now. There are more than 13 strains of HPV responsible for causing cervical cancer in females, out of which HPV-16 and HPV-18 are mainly involved. HPV infection triggers your body’s immune response, cells start to divide and grow uncontrollably in order to eliminate virus, but that leads to accumulation of a mass of cervical cells.

What are the other risk factors associated with cervical cancer?

The other risk factors associated with cervical cancer are more number of sexual partners, smoking, birth control pills, other STD infections like chlamydia and gonorrhea, immunocompromised state, and low socioeconomic status.

If a person has more sexual partners, the risk of getting HPV infection increases. Smoking may trigger mutation in the genes and proteins responsible for causing cervical cancer. Women who take birth control pills for a long period of time are at more risk of developing cervical cancer. If a person has undergone an organ transplant or is suffering from diseases like AIDS HIV, the chances of cervical cancer increase.

Can HPV vaccination help in the prevention of cervical cancer?

Yes, HPV vaccination helps in reducing the overall incidence of cervical cancer. If it is given to young girls and women, it prevents most cases of cervical cancer. It can also be given to boys to prevent transmission of HPV virus. It can be given to young boys and girls of 9 years of age. It should ideally be given before they have sexual contact and an exposed to HPV virus.

It is not recommended to pregnant women and to ill patients. This also prevents vaginal and vulvar cancer, genital warts, and cancers of mouth, neck and throat.

How can you prevent cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer is preventable. You can take measures like getting HPV vaccination, practicing safe sex, fewer sexual partners, and stopping smoking.

It is seen that females who have less number of sexual partners have less risk of developing cervical cancer. Safe sex practices like using condoms prevent transmission of sexually transmitted diseases like HPV, chlamydia, gonorrhea.

You can regularly go for pap smear tests. This test is used to find any precancerous lesions. Your doctor gently scrape the cervix to remove cells for testing. The earlier the detection, the better the prognosis.

What are the different stages of cervical cancer?

Staging of cervical cancer is crucial to determine the extent of your disease and decide the suitable and effective treatment. Cervical cancer ranges from stage 1 to stage 4. The lower the number of stages, the less is the spread, and the better is the prognosis.

Stage 1 shows that cancer has spread to deeper layers of cervix but not to nearby lymph nodes.

Stage 2 signifies cancer has spread beyond the cervix and uterus but not across walls of the pelvis.

Stage 3 indicates spreads outside walls of the pelvis and blocking of ureter due to cell accumulation.

Stage 4 indicates spread to other organs like bladder, rectum, lungs, or liver.

What are the tests for cervical cancer?

If your doctor suspects the symptoms, the doctor will start with an HPV test or pap smear test. If a pap smear test shows abnormal cells and HPV is positive, the doctor will take your medical history. The doctor will ask you about your personal and family history. The doctor then examines your pelvic area. The doctor is likely to perform a colposcopy using a speculum. If there are any abnormal cells, it will be sent for biopsy.

Your doctor may perform imaging studies to show the extent of spread of cancer. X-ray, CT scan, MRI and PET scan help in determining the stage of cervical cancer and your treatment plan.

What are the different surgeries performed for cervical cancer?

Surgery is the  most common treatment choice if the cancer is confined. There are two types of surgeries performed to treat pre-cancer lesions. Ablation surgery like cryosurgery uses cold temperatures to kill abnormal cells by freezing them. In laser ablation, the laser focuses on abnormal cells to destroy them. Conization or excisional surgeries cut out  and remove the pre-cancer cells.

Surgeries for invasive cervical cancer are hysterectomy and trachelectomy. In simple hysterectomy, the uterus is removed but structures surrounding it, vagina and lymph nodes are not removed.

Trachelectomy removes only the cervix and the upper part of the vagina. The doctor places a permanent “purse-string” stitch inside the cavity to keep the opening of the uterus closed.

How to treat cervical cancer in pregnancy?

The cervical cancers found in pregnancy are mostly stage 1 cancers. The treatment depends on the factors like tumor size, duration of pregnancy, type of cancer, and the extent of cancer. If the cancer is detected early, you may continue the pregnancy, and surgery is done after childbirth. But if cancer is stage 2 or above, you and your doctor must decide to continue the pregnancy. If not, treatment is hysterectomy and chemotherapy. If you continue, the baby is delivered via C-section.

How can you lower the risk of getting cancer after treatment?

After treatment, cancer can recur in some women. However, there are certain steps you can take to lower your risk.

  • You must try to stay away from tobacco products, smoking, and alcohol.
  • Exercise regularly and stay physically active.
  • Follow a healthy diet that includes fruits and vegetables.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.

In case of unusual signs and symptoms, consult your doctor.

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