Last updated on January 31st, 2024 at 11:21 am
Women’s cervix, which connects the uterus and vagina, is where cervical cancer develops when cells in the cervix alter. This cancer has the ability to metastasize (spread to other areas of the body), most frequently the lungs, liver, bladder, vagina, and rectum. It may also damage the deeper tissues of their cervix.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, which is avoidable with a vaccine, is the main cause of cervical cancer.
Because cervical cancer develops gradually, it may usually be identified and treated before it becomes a serious hazard. Every year, it takes fewer and fewer lives of women thanks to greater screening through Pap tests.
Different Types of cervical cancer
- Carcinoma of the squamous cell : This develops in your cervix’s lining. Up to 90% of cases have it
- Adenocarcinoma : This develops in the mucus-producing cells.
- Mixed cancer : This possesses traits from the other two categories.
How does cervical cancer develop?
Unusual changes in your tissue signal the start of cervical cancer. The majority of instances are related to HPV infection. Various HPV strains can result in skin warts, genital warts, and other skin conditions. Others are connected to malignancies of the tonsils, vulva, vagina, penis, anus, and tongue.
What Are the Risk Factors for Cervical Cancer?
- Began sex before the age of 18 or within a year of the onset of your period
- possess a number of sexual partners
- Use birth control tablets, preferably for a period of at least five years.
- puff on a cigarette
- possess a compromised immune system
- possess a sexually transmitted illness (STD)
What are the most typical cervical cancer warning signs and symptoms?
Because they lack symptoms, cervical cancer in its early stages is frequently challenging to identify. Before cervical cancer symptoms emerge, a number of years may pass. The best way to avoid cervical cancer is to identify aberrant cells when the condition is being tested for.
Stage 1 cervical cancer symptoms and signs might include:
- Vaginal discharge that is either bloody or watery, may be heavy, and may smell bad.
- Vaginal bleeding following sex, in between cycles, or following menopause.
- Periods of menstruation could be heavier and longer than usual.
Symptoms of cancer that has spread to close tissues or organs include:
- Pelvic discomfort
- trouble urinating
- enlarged legs
- renal failure
- a bone ache
- losing weight and having no appetite
How discomforting is cervical cancer?
If you have any pain at all from cervical cancer in its early stages, it might not feel severe. You can have pelvic pain or have trouble peeing when the cancer worsens and spreads to neighbouring tissues and organs. Others may experience overall bad health, exhaustion, or appetite loss.
How is ovarian/ cervical cancer identified?
The long-term development of cervical cancer is gradual. Before turning into cancer, the cells in your cervix go through a number of alterations. Once-normal cells in your cervix begin to appear unequal or abnormal. These abnormal cells could vanish, stay the same, or transform into malignant cells.
The two tests that have advanced the most in cervical cancer screening are the high-risk HPV test and the Papanicolaou test (Pap smear). An essential part of a woman’s pelvic exam is a Pap smear. The cells are taken from the surface of your cervix by your doctor, who then examines them under a microscope. If your doctor notices anything unusual, they will take a small sample of cervical tissue and perform a procedure called a biopsy.
Other technologies are capable of detecting changes in your cervix. They include:
Colposcopy resembles pelvic examination. If a Pap smear reveals atypical cells, your doctor might prescribe it. They stain your cervix with acetic vinegar or a harmless dye to make the cells easier to see. Then, they use a colposcope, a microscope that magnifies your cervix by eight to fifteen times, to look for unusual cells for biopsy. The usual setting for this procedure is your gynecologist’s office. The colposcopy may reveal invasive cancer, in which case you could need another biopsy in the future.
During the loop electrosurgical excision technique (LEEP), your doctor extracts a sample of tissue from your cervix using an electrified loop of wire. This could be found in the gynecologist’s office.
While you are sedated, your doctor can recognize, which is the surgical removal of a portion of your cervix. A LEEP, a scalpel (cold knife conization), or a laser could be used. You can typically leave the hospital the same day because these operations are outpatient.
Additional testing will identify whether the cancer has spread (metastasized) if the biopsy results in a cancer diagnosis. These examinations may involve:
- studies on kidney and liver function.
- tests on blood and urine.
- abdominal cavity, rectum, bowels, and bladder X-rays.
Stages of Cervical cancer
- Stage I: Only the cervix is affected by cancer at stage I. It is little and hasn’t spread.
- Stage II: The cancer has gone past the cervix and uterus but hasn’t reached the pelvic wall or the vagina (the tissues that line the area of the body between the hips).
- Stage III: The bottom portion of your vagina has been affected, and the cancer may have progressed to your pelvic wall, ureters, and adjacent lymph nodes.
- Stage IV: The cancer has gone to your bones, lungs, bladder, or rectum, among other body regions.
Cervical cancer treatment?
A gynecologic oncologist, a medical professional who specializes in cancers of the female reproductive system, is a member of the cervical cancer treatment team. The suggested course of treatment for cervical cancer depends on the stage of the disease, your age, general health, and if you plan to have children in the future.
By employing radiation beams, radiation therapy eliminates cancer cells on your cervix.
- External beam radiation therapy (EBRT) uses a machine outside the body to direct powerful radiation towards tumours.
- Radiation is applied directly to or near a malignancy during brachytherapy.
Chemotherapy (also known as chemo) uses oral or intravenous pharmaceutical administration to kill cancer cells. It enters your bloodstream and efficiently kills cells all over your body. Numerous drugs, some of which can be combined, are used in chemotherapy. Chemotherapy cycles are commonly given. The duration of the cycle and the frequency or schedule of chemotherapy are influenced by the medication being used and the location of the tumour.
Cervical cancer is treated with a variety of surgical procedures. The most frequent techniques used to treat cervical cancer are as follows:
- Laser surgery: In this procedure, cancer cells are destroyed with a laser beam.
- Cryosurgery: Cancer cells are frozen during a procedure known as cryosurgery..
- Cone biopsy: A procedure in which your cervix is sampled for a cone-shaped piece of tissue.
- Simple hysterectomy: In this procedure, only the uterus is removed, leaving the surrounding tissue in place. Your pelvic and vaginal lymph nodes are left in place.
- The uterus, surrounding tissue known as the parametrium, the cervix, a tiny amount of the upper part of the vagina, and pelvic lymph nodes are all removed during a radical hysterectomy with pelvic lymph node dissection.
- With a trachelectomy, your cervix and the upper portion of your vagina are removed, but not your uterus.
- Depending on where the cancer has spread, a pelvic exenteration is similar to a radical hysterectomy but also removes part of your colon, your bladder, vagina, and your rectum.
By eliminating the malignant tissue, the disease can be treated when it is in its early stages. In some situations, your doctor might perform a straightforward or radical hysterectomy.
Targeted drug therapy destroys specific cancer cells without damaging healthy cells. It works by concentrating on the proteins that control how cancer cells multiply and spread. As scientists learn more about cancer cells, they will be able to develop more specialized treatments that specifically target and get rid of these proteins.
Drugs are used in immunotherapy to stimulate your immune system’s capacity to find and destroy cancer cells. In order to avoid being attacked by your immune system, cancer cells can also signal. Immunotherapy that targets these signals prevents cancer cells from tricking your body into thinking they are healthy cells.
Clinical trials are yet another form of treatment. They are controlled research trials that evaluate novel cancer therapies. Speak with your oncologist about clinical trial participation if you’re interested.
Some people supplement their cancer therapy with complementary therapies like diet, herbs, acupuncture, and other practices. Speak with your healthcare practitioner about alternative practices that promise to lessen the symptoms of cancer. Some may be beneficial, while others may be dangerous.
Cervical cancer occurs in the cells of the cervix, which is the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. This cancer can affect the deeper tissues of the cervix and may spread to other parts of the body.
The most common cause of cervical cancer is a persistent infection with certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV). Other factors, like smoking and having a weakened immune system, can increase the risk.
In its early stages, cervical cancer usually presents no symptoms. As the cancer progresses, symptoms may include vaginal bleeding after intercourse, between periods or after menopause, watery, bloody vaginal discharge that may be heavy and have a foul odor, and pelvic pain or pain during intercourse.
Cervical cancer is often detected through routine Pap tests (Pap smears), which involve collecting cells from the cervix for laboratory analysis. If abnormal cells are found, additional tests like a colposcopy or a biopsy may be needed.
Treatment depends on the stage of the cancer, the size and shape of the tumor, the woman’s age and general health, and her desire to have children in the future. Options include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of these.
Regular cervical screening (Pap tests), vaccination against HPV, practicing safe sex, and avoiding smoking can help prevent cervical cancer. HPV vaccines effectively prevent the types of HPV most commonly associated with cervical cancer.
The prognosis depends on several factors, including the stage of the cancer when it is diagnosed. Early-stage cervical cancer has a high survival rate, while advanced cancer has a lower survival rate.
Guidelines vary, but generally, it’s recommended that women begin cervical cancer screening at age 21 and continue at regular intervals. The frequency of screening depends on your age, health history, and the type of test used.
While HPV infection is a major risk factor, not all types of HPV cause cervical cancer, and not all HPV infections lead to cancer. Most HPV infections resolve on their own without causing any health problems.
Yes, men can get HPV and can pass it to their partners. HPV in men can lead to genital warts and cancers of the penis, anus, and throat.
Note: Remember, for personal medical advice, including decisions about screenings, vaccinations, and treatment, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional.