The cervix lies on the lower portion of the womb of a woman which opens into the vagina. It can be easily detected through simple Pap test and cervical cancer is the most common type of cancers in women all over the world. In countries where cervical screening is part of routine cervical cancer is less common. HPV is the virus that causes cervical cancer and sex workers and women with multiple sex partners are likely to develop this cancer. Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatment are some of the popular methods of treating this cancer.
Cervical Cancer Causes :
Cervix is made of cells like any other organ in your body. Cells undergo constant change in their routine causing death of older cells and forming new cells. However due to abnormal changes in this process some of the cells of cervix become abnormal and infected causing cervical cancer. Human Papilloma Virus is the major cause of cervical cancer.
There are many strains of this virus but only two of them causes this cancer. Many of them cause genital warts in men and women. It is likely that most of the adults are infected with HPV at some point of their life. But due to strong immunity the infection does not bother your body cells. Having more number of sex partners can cause cervical cancer. Smoking cigarette can increase the risk of getting cancer.
Cervical cancer does not show any signs or symptoms. In rare cases it can cause symptoms like pain during intercourse, vaginal bleeding while having sex, bleeding between periods and discharge from vagina. For some women it would cause irregular periods. Back pain, anemia and urinary problems are common in some women. In rare cases there would be urine leakage through vaginal opening when fistula develops between the bladder and vagina.
What Happens If You Are Not Treating It ?
If left untreated or unnoticed, cervical cancer can spread into the tissue layers of the uterus and progresses to the lymph nodes. From there it has every chance to spread to other organs like kidney and liver.
Who Are At Risk ?
Women with persistent HPV infection, women having multiple sex partners and those with impaired immunity are likely to develop cervical cancer.
Read more on Vaginal Cancer
Your doctor would perform a pelvic exam and request for Pap smear test. If required, she may order for cervical biopsy, endocervical biopsy and LEEP test for collecting tissue sample from the cervix and testing it. To be accurate with the staging and intensity of cancer, your doctor would ask you for imaging tests like X-ray of lungs, CT/MRI/PET scan for checking how far the cancer has spread to other body parts.
If detected at early stages, cervical cancer can be fully treated. The more the delay the worse would be the outcome. Surgery is done for removing cancer causing cells in the cervix. It is done after considering factors like how far the cancer cells has spread inside and whether you want to have children or not. Cone biopsy or LEEP procedure is done for removing part of cervical tissue affected with cancer. Radical trachelectomy is done for removing part of cervix, vagina and lymph nodes of the pelvic floor. Hysterectomy is the process of removing the cervix along with uterus. During the surgery, the ovaries together with fallopian tubes are fully removed.
In modified form of radical hysterectomy the uterus plus cervix are removed but only fewer organs and tissues are removed. Pelvic exenteration is done only when the cancer has spread widely to the belly and pelvis. In this process apart from the uterus and cervix, colon, rectum and bladder will be removed. It is the most severe form of pelvic surgery. After removing them, the surgeon would create artificial openings for passing urine/stool and fix artificial vagina.
Hysterectomy is done in most of the cases diagnosed with cervical cancer. This is a major surgery done with general anesthesia which would warrant few days stay in the clinic. Chemotherapy is done for some women to destroy cancer causing cells. Radiation treatment uses high powered beams to kill cancer cells. The mode of treatment is decided by the doctor according to the stage of your cancer. Some of the drugs given during chemotherapy are carboplatin, bevacizumab, ifosfamide, docetaxel and mitomycin. These drugs can cause side effects like vomiting/nausea which you can overcome with other medications.
It is very important to complete the follow-up care with your oncologist after surgery or other therapy for cervical cancer. You should stick on the regular checkups doing Pap test for every 6 months for the first few years. In rare cases cervical cancer can come back after treatment. Cancer detected in early stage can be fully cured.
Images, Pics, Photos and Pictures of Cervical Cancer :
Discuss with your gynecologist to have Pap test once in 6 months depending on your age and risk factors. If you are a smoker, quit smoking immediately since it reduces the chance of getting cervical cancer. Women who are under 25 years can get vaccinated for HPV. Practice safe sex and avoid having sex with multiple partners. Avoid having sex if you or your partners have sexually transmitted disease or infection. The virus can spread easily through oral sex also and hence avoid having sex when you carry an infection.