Cervical Cancer – What it is, Symptoms and Treatments

Cervical Cancer – What it is, Symptoms and Treatments with surgery and drugs. Furthermore, Cervical Cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix – the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina . Several strains of the human papilloma virus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection, play a role in causing most cervical cancer . When exposed to HPV, a woman’s immune system usually prevents the virus from causing damage. In a small group of women, however, the virus has survived for years, contributing to the process that causes some cells to form on the surface of the cervix.become cancer cells. You can reduce your risk of developing cervical cancer by screening tests and receiving a vaccine that protects against HPV infection.

Causes of Cervical Cancer: Cervical  Cancer starts when healthy cells acquire a genetic change (mutation) that causes them to turn into abnormal cells. Healthy cells grow and multiply at a fixed rate, eventually dying at a fixed time.

Cancer cells grow and multiply out of control, and they don’t die. The accumulated abnormal cells form a mass (tumor). Cancer cells invade nearby tissues and can separate from a tumor to spread (metastasize) elsewhere in the body.

It is unclear what causes Cervical Cancer , but it is certain that HPV plays a role. HPV is very common, and most women with the virus never develop cervical cancer . This means that other factors – such as your environment or your lifestyle choices – also determine whether you will develop  Cervical Cancer .

Types of Cervical Cancer:  The types of Cervical Cancer you have helps determine your prognosis and treatment. The main types of Cervical Cancer are:

  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma: This type of Cervical Cancer starts in the thin, flat cells (squamous cells) that line the outside of the cervix , which protrudes into the vagina . Most cervical cancers are squamous cell carcinomas.
  • Adenocarcinoma: This type of Cervical Cancer starts in the column-shaped glandular cells that line the cervical canal.

Sometimes both cell types are involved in Cervical Cancer . Very rarely, cancer occurs in other cells of the cervix .

Symptoms of Cervical Cancer:  Early stage Cervical Cancer usually does not produce any signs orsymptoms . Signs and symptoms ofmore advanced Cervical Cancer include:

  • Vaginal bleeding after intercourse, between periods, or after menopause
  • Bloody vaginal discharge that can be heavy and smelly
  • Pelvic pain or pain during intercourse

Cervical Cancer  Risk Factors: Risk factors for Cervical Cancer  include:

  • Many Sexual Partners: The greater the number of sexual partners – and the greater the number of sexual partners your partner has – the greater the chance of acquiring HPV.
  • Early Sexual Activity: Having sex at an early age increases the risk of HPV.
  • Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs): Having other STIs — such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV/AIDS — increases your risk of HPV.
  • A Weak Immune System: You may be more likely to develop cervical cancer if your immune system is weakened by another health condition and you have HPV.
  • Smoking: Smoking is associated with Cervical Squamous Cell Cancer.

When to See a Doctor:  Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you.

Cervical Cancer Diagnosis:  If Cervical Cancer is suspected , your doctor will likely start with a thorough examination of the cervix. A special magnifying instrument (colposcope) is used to check for abnormal cells. During the colposcopic examination, your doctor will likely take a sample of cervical cells (biopsy) for laboratory testing. To obtain tissue, your doctor may use:

  • Perforation biopsy, which involves using a sharp tool to prick small samples of cervical tissue.
  • Endocervical dairy, which uses a small spoon-shaped instrument (curette) or a fine brush to scrape a sample of tissue from the cervix .

If the punch biopsy or endocervical curettage is of concern, your doctor may perform one of the following tests:

  • Electrical wire loop, which uses a thin, low-voltage electrical wire to obtain a small tissue sample. This is usually done under local anesthesia in the office.
  • Cone biopsy, which is a procedure that allows your doctor to obtain deeper layers of cervical cells for laboratory testing. A cone biopsy can be done in a hospital under general anesthesia.

Screening:  Cervical cancer that is detected early is more likely to be successfully treated. Most guidelines suggest that women start screening for Cervical Cancer and precancerous changes at age 21. Screening tests include:

  • Pap Test: During a Pap test, your doctor scrapes and brushes cells from your cervix , which are examined in a lab for abnormalities. A Pap smear can detect abnormal cells in the cervix, including cancer cells and cells that show changes that increase the risk of cervical cancer.
  • HPV DNA Testing: HPV DNA testing involves testing cells collected from the cervix for infection with any type of HPV that is more likely to lead to Cervical Cancer . This test may be an option for women age 30 and older, or for younger women with an abnormal Pap smear.

Staging:  If your doctor determines that you have Cervical Cancer, you will have further tests to determine the extent (stage) of your cancer. The stage of your cancer is a key factor in deciding on your treatment. Staging exams include:

  • Imaging Tests: Tests such as X-rays, computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and positron emission tomography (PET) help your doctor determine whether your cancer has spread beyond the cervix.
  • Visual Examination of Your Bladder and Rectum: Your doctor may use special scopes to see inside your bladder and rectum.

The stages of Cervical Cancer include:

  • Stage I: The cancer is confined to the cervix .
  • Stage II: The cancer is present in the cervix and upper vagina .
  • Stage III: The cancer has moved to the lower part of the vagina or internally to the pelvic sidewall.
  • Stage IV: The cancer has spread to nearby organs, such as the bladder or rectum, or has spread to other areas of the body, such as the lungs, liver, or bones.

Cervical Cancer Treatments:  Treatment for Cervical Cancer depends on several factors such as the stage of the cancer, other health problems you may have and your preferences. Surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or a combination of the three may be used.

Surgery:  Early stage Cervical Cancer is typically treated with surgery to remove the uterus (hysterectomy )  A hysterectomy can cure early stage Cervical Cancer and prevent recurrence. But removing the uterus makes it impossible to get pregnant. Your doctor may recommend:

  • Simple Hysterectomy: The cervix and uterus are removed along with the cancer. Simple hysterectomy is usually an option only in early stage Cervical Cancer .
  • Radical Hysterectomy: The cervix , uterus, part of the vagina, and the lymph nodes in the area are removed with cancer.

Minimally invasive surgery may be an option for early stage cervical cancer . Pregnancy-preserving surgery may also be an option if you have very early-stage cervical cancer without lymph node involvement.Radiation: Radiation  therapy uses high-powered beams of energy, such as X-rays or protons, to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy can be used alone or with chemotherapy before surgery to shrink a tumor or after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells. Radiation therapy may be given:

  • Externally, directing a beam of radiation into the affected area of ​​the body (external beam radiation therapy)
  • Internally, placing a device filled with radioactive material into the vagina , usually for just a few minutes (brachytherapy)
  • Both externally and internally

Premenopausal women may stop menstruating and begin menopause as a result of radiation therapy. If you want to get pregnant after radiation treatment, ask your doctor about ways to preserve your eggs before starting treatment.

Chemotherapy:  Chemotherapy uses drugs, usually injected into a vein, to kill cancer cells. Low doses of chemotherapy are often combined with radiation therapy, as chemotherapy can increase the effects of radiation. Higher doses of chemotherapy are used to control advanced Cervical Cancer  that may not be curable. Follow-up Care:  After you complete your treatment, your doctor will recommend regular checkups. Ask your doctor how often you should have follow-up exams.

Supportive (Palliative) Care: Palliative  care is specialized medical care that focuses on providing relief from pain and other symptoms of a serious illness. Palliative care specialists work with you, your family and your other doctors to provide an extra layer of support that complements your ongoing care.

When palliative care is used along with all other appropriate treatments, people with cancer can feel better and live longer. Palliative care is provided by a team of specially trained doctors, nurses and other professionals. Palliative care teams aim to improve the quality of life for people with cancer and their families. This form of care is offered alongside curative or other treatments you may be receiving.

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