Cervical cancer is one of the most commonly seen cancer that affects women across the globe, and ranks almost next to breast cancer. It normally starts developing slowly. It can be treated easily if diagnosed at an earlier stage. Abnormal growth of cells seen in the cervix region is referred as cervical cancer. It may not show any symptoms as such. However, if some tests are done on a regular basis, the risk of this cancer can be reduced to a great extent. Over the last few years, the women in U.S., have been able to drop the occurence of this cancer significantly by doing Pap tests regularly. Therefore, there is definitely a scope to reduce the incidence of cancer of cervix in the near future.
The main cause of cervical cancer is human papilloma virus that is transmitted during sexual intercourse. It is not the case that every virus may be cancerous, but some may tend to become cancerous. The other factors that increase the risk of this cervical cancer include, having more than two children, sex at an early age, multiple partners, smoking, use of oral contraceptives, weak immune system, women who took drug diethylstilbesterol to prevent miscarriage, etc.
Signs and Symptoms
A woman needs to be alert and aware about cervical cancer by trying to get more information on the same. Some common signs and symptoms seen in case of this cancer are vaginal bleeding in between two periods, bleeding after sexual intercourse or post menopause, a foul smelling vaginal discharge, pain during intercourse, pelvic pain, heavy bleeding for longer periods, pain while urinating, fatigue, bone pain, weight loss, etc.
Your doctor or healthcare provider will usually ask you to do a pelvic examination to examine the vagina, ovaries, womb, rectum, bladder, etc. and check whether there are any lumps in that region. A colposcopy may be suggested to get a closer look at the cervix. Additional biopsy may be done to determine the extent to which the cancer has spread. Pap test usually involves the collection of cells from the cervix and vagina and examining them in a laboratory. HPV test is required if abnormalities are seen in a Pap test. Routine CT scan, PET scan, IVP, MRI and X-rays may be done. In case of large tumors, proctoscopy, cystoscopy, or pelvic exam under general anesthesia is required.
If the cancer is detected at an earlier stage, the precancerous cells can be removed by surgery without causing any damage to the cervix. This will enable the woman to concieve in future. The treatment will also depend on factors like size, shape and stage of tumor, her health, age, etc. An initial stage of cancer can be treated by using LEEP, cone biopsy, cold coagulation, diathermy or cryotherapy to destroy the cancerous cells by excision. Those who already have children, or have gone through menopause may opt for hysterectomy. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are recommended for advanced stages of cancer.
This is one cancer that can be prevented easily. Get yourself vaccinated against HPV. Make sure you delay intercourse and have safe sex by using a condom. Limit the number of sexual partners and avoid smoking. The last but definitely not the least, is a routine Pap test to diagnose the precancerous condiditon and treat it right away.
Based on this information and guidelines, today’s women will definitely be more aware and alert and come together to fight against cervical cancer.