Cervical cancer is a cancer originating from the cervix. It occurs due to abnormal growth and spread of the cells. This cancer cells affects the deeper tissues of the cervix and may spread to other parts the body. Cervical cancer grows slowly so the symptoms are also not visible in the early stages of cancer. However, there are some precancerous changes in the cervix seen in the early stages of the cancer.
Most women diagnosed with the precancerous changes in the cervix are in their 20s and 30s, but the average age of women when they are diagnosed with cervical cancer is the mid 50s. This difference in the age at which precancerous changes are most frequently diagnosed and the age at which cancer is diagnosed highlights the slow progression of this disease and the reason why it can be prevented if adequate steps are taken.
Signs and Symptoms:
Causes of Cervical Cancer:
Causes of cervical cancer are as follows:
HPV (human papillomavirus): It is a sexually transmitted virus. There are various types of HPV. Cervical cancer causing HPV types are nearly always transmitted as a result of sexual contact with an infected individual. Women who have had many sexual partners generally have a higher risk of becoming infected with HPV. This develops the risk of cervix cancer.
Smoking: This increases the risk of cervical and other cancers.
Weak Immunity System: Weak immunity can also increase the risk of cervical cancer. And also increase the risk of the patient that has undergone a transplant, or undergone some immunosuppressive medications.
Several Pregnancies: Women who have had atleast three children in separate pregnancies are more likely to develop cervical cancer, compared with women who have never had children.
Birth Control Pills: Long term use of contraceptive pills increase the rate of cervical cancer in women.
Diagnosis of Cervical Cancer:
Diagnosis is done by a simple procedure called colposcopy. A colposcopy lets your doctor get a look at your cervix. The exam takes 5 to 10 minutes. Colposcopy is done by magnifying instrument called a colposcope.
A patient is told to lie on exam table. A instrument named speculum is used to keep the vagina open. colposcope is used to examine cervix and vulva.
Other tests such as cervical smear test, HPV DNA test, blood test, CT scan, MRI, biopsy and pelvic ultrasound are also used as diagnostic methods.
Treatments of Cervical Cancer:
Cervical treatment options includes surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy or combinations of these.
Early stage cervical cancer treatment options
Surgery is commonly used when the cancer is confined to the cervix. Radiotherapy may be used after surgery if a doctor believes there may still be cancer cells inside the body.
Radiotherapy may also be used to reduce the risk of recurrence. If the surgeon wants to shrink the tumor to make it easier to operate, the person may receive chemotherapy although this is not a very common approach.
Treatment for advanced cervical cancer
When the cancer has spread beyond the cervix, surgery is not usually an option. Advanced cancer is also referred to as invasive cancer because it has invaded other areas of the body. This type of cancer requires more extensive treatment, which will typically involve either radiotherapy or a combination of radiotherapy and chemotherapy. In the later stages of cancer, palliative therapy is administered to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life.
Radiotherapy is also known as radiation therapy, radiation oncology and XRT. It involves the use of beams of high energy x- rays or radiations to destroy cancer cells.
Chemotherapy is the use of chemicals to treat cervical cancer. Chemotherapy is used to target cancer cells that surgery cannot remove.