About the disease
Cervical cancer develops in cervix, which is a neck of uterus. It is fourth most-common cancer among female population. Prognosis of this disease also substantiates that cervical cancer is the fourth most-common cause of death among women. Nevertheless, if there was timely diagnosis and treatment, chances for recovery reach almost 60%. In most cases cervical cancer can be preceded by Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN), which is an abnormal growth of cells on the cervix. CIN is usually caused by chronic cervix infection and sometimes warts.
Even though mortality rate is high in people with cervical cancer, there had been improvements in the last 10 years, which reduced number of cervical cancer death by half. According to BBC News, HPV vaccine, that was invented and implemented in use 10 years ago, not only proved to be an effective vaccine against infection, it can also protect people from cancer. It turns out that HPV vaccine, which was used in more than 180 countries, really helped to fight cervical cancer by dramatically reducing its occurrence rate. This vaccine is said to prevent not only cervical cancer, but also oropharyngeal cancer, which emerges in the mouth. This vaccine, which was primarily invented in Australia, is already said to reduce number of infections and cervical cancers by impressive 90%. Needless to say that this vaccine is needed for anyone who has genetic predisposition or weak immune system. It is being implemented in everyday use right now.
HPV infection is probably the biggest risk factor for this type of cancer. Other cervical cancer causes are:
- Big number of sexual partners
- Oral contraceptives
- Other sexually transmitted infections
Science Daily, which is a medical magazine, also reported that Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), which is an inflammatory disease, also increases risk of cervical cancer in women by several times. It may be especially dangerous if person who had SLE was treated by immunosuppressants.
- Strong abdominal pain
- Vaginal bleeding
- Postcoital bleeding
- Metastases, that spread to lungs or abdomen
- Considerable weight loss
Symptoms of cervical cancer depend on stage of its development. International Federation of Gynecology outlines 7 stages, in which beginning ones are the most difficult to diagnose, as they can be latent. Signs of more progressive stage include:
- Pain during the intercourse. While blood after sex is not considered to be very dangerous, blood and pain during sex are clear signs that there is something wrong with cervix
- Oddly looking discharge from vagina
- An infection found during PAP test
- Back and pelvic pain
- Swelling of the legs
- Problems with urinating
Among rare symptoms of cervical cancer are malodorous discharge and dysuria.
Biopsy is probably the most precise diagnostic method, as it can determine if there are malignant cells in the affected tissue. Another widely used cervical cancer diagnostic method is transvaginal ultrasound. It is mostly practiced in the United Kingdom and in the USA and it is done in addition to traditional cancer diagnostics. Sometimes thickness in female`s womb is not a cancer and the reason for vaginal pain is something else. In this case ultrasound helps to determine if the thickness is cancerous and if further diagnostics should be done. Sometimes patients are required to undergo additional procedure of MRI to also determine the stage of tumor. In rare cases liver and kidney tests are also done to determine the exact location of the cancer.
Treatment of cervical cancer depends on its stage. There are several options for treatment of this cancer:
- Hysterectomy (removal of uterus by surgery). This kind of treatment of cervical cancer is practiced for progressed stages.
- Trachelectomy (surgical treatment for cervical cancer without actual removal of uterus and ovaries). This surgery is performed during early cervical cancer stages.
- Radiation therapy is another treatment for cervical cancer which is usually used in combination with surgery. It uses high energy radiation to kill the cells that may arise after the surgery.
- Extensive surgical resection by infiltration of neighboring organs. This procedure aims to fully destroy malignant cells in all places where they could spread without damaging neighboring organs.
- Conization. This is an excision of affected tissue from mucous membrane of cervix.
As we can see cervical cancer symptoms and treatment are proportional and usually doctor chooses treatment by stage, so that the entire cancer is removed from the body of the patient.