Cervical Cancer

Cervical Cancer, Symptoms, Causes, Stages, Treatment

Cervical cancer affects the cervix region of the female reproductive system. Cervix is the end portion of the uterus, and it connects theFemale Human Reproductive System Showing- Cervical Cancer uterus to the vagina. It occurs due to infection by Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Cervical cancer occurs most frequently in the age group of 35- 44 years.                           

Symptoms of Cervical cancer

  • Bleeding through the vagina (either after intercourse, between periods, or post-menopause)
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge (heavy or with a foul odor)
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Pain in the pelvic region

Causes of Cervical cancer

  • Human papillomavirus
  • Low immune system
  • Smoking
  • High parity
  • Prolonged use of oral contraceptives
  • Family history
  • This virus spreads through sexual contact with the infected person.

Read Here : Cervical Cancer Screening Test, Pap and HPV Category and Risk Involved


 

Diagnosis 

It is advised that all women should undergo a screening process every 3-5 years. There are simple non-invasive tests for screening for cervical cancer. One can consult a gynecologist if they have doubts regarding the diagnosis, and symptoms of cervical cancer. Screening tests can be performed by general gynecologists, and at a cytopathology lab.  

  1. Pap test: The Papanicolaou test is a cervical screening method to detect precancerous or cancerous lesions in the cervix. If the results are abnormal, which can be suggestive of cells with low-grade intraepithelial lesions or cells with high-grade intraepithelial lesions. The results are generally normal. The abnormal pap test results were correlated with molecular testing for the presence of HPV infection.    
  1. Molecular testing for HPV test: The cervix cells will be collected and tested for the presence of DNA of the HPV. The positive result indicates the infection with HPV.

There are diverse types of HPVs. Sexually transmittable HPVs are majorly grouped into low risk and high risk. Infection with high-risk HPVs causes cancer. HPV 16 and HPV 18 are the most types responsible for cervical cancer.

If the screening test along with the HPV test got positive, Gynaecologist can ask patients to undergo a colposcopy. During colposcopy, With the help of an instrument called a colposcope, the cervix is visually examined for lesions and bleeding.   

After all these screening tests, a Histopathology Biopsy was performed. Histopathology is the standard reference method for the diagnosis of cervical cancer. The diagnosis of histopathology gives clear results on the status of cancer and further ideas on the suitable decision-making for management. 

 

Stages 

After all the tests are done and their results are out, it can be easily predicted at what stage the cancer is. The purpose of staging is to show how far cancer has spread. 

Staging is done as follows: 

Stage 0 – There are no cancerous cells in the cervix but some biological changes have taken place that make it more likely to become cancer in the future. This is called “carcinoma in situ” or “cervical intraepithelial neoplasia”. 

Stage 1 – The cancer is in the cervix itself. 

Stage 2 – Cancer has spread to the tissues around the cervix but not to the lining of the pelvis or the lower part of the vagina. 

Stage 3 – Cancer has reached the lower part of the vagina and/or the pelvic lining. 

Stage 4 – Cancer has spread to the intestines, bladder, or other organs, such as the lungs.

 

Treatment 

Cervical cancer can be treated by surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.

  1. The majority of the early-stage cervical cancers that are non-invasive can be treated by procedures like ablation either through laser or cryoprobe. A surgical procedure called conization is through which a cone-shaped piece of tissue will be excised from the cervix.
  2. Hysterectomy is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of the uterus. It removes the body of the uterus along with the cervix. This is commonly performed to treat severe cervical cancer.
  3. Modern cancer treatment involves the use of radiation and chemotherapy. One needs to understand clearly the stage of the disease, and patient factors like the age to decide on the type of management.

 

HPV Vaccination For Cervical Cancer

The vaccination for HPV is recommended by CDC at the age of 11-12 years. Two doses are recommended. Gardasil9, Gardasil4, Cervarix are the US-FDA approved vaccines. These vaccines protect from the high-risk HPV types 16 and 18.

 

Survival rate

If cervical cancer is detected at an early age, the 5-year survival rate is found to be greater than 92%. 

If you have read till the end, we are sure you have gained some information from this short article briefly explaining cervical cancer, its symptoms, and causes, types of treatment options and the HPV vaccine and survival rate.

 

(Disclaimer: Information provided in this piece of article is purely for educational purposes only. All results must be clinically correlated with the patient’s data to make an accurate diagnosis.) 

 

References

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, December 14). Basic information about cervical cancer.
  2. World Health Organization. (n.d.). Cervical cancer. World Health Organization.

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