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 papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection, play a role in causing most types of cervical cancer.
When exposed to HPV, the body’s immune system usually stops the virus from doing any harm. However, in a small percentage of people, the virus persists for years, contributing to the process that causes some cells in the cervix to become cancer cells.
You can lower your risk of developing cervical cancer by getting tested and getting vaccinated against human papillomavirus infection.
Cervical cancer in its early stages usually does not cause signs or symptoms.
Signs and symptoms of more advanced cervical cancer include:
vaginal bleeding after intercourse, between periods, or after menopause
watery, bloody vaginal discharge that may be profuse and have a foul odor
pelvic pain or pain during intercourse
When should you see a doctor?
Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you.
Risk factors for cervical cancer include the following:
Multiple sexual partners. The more partners you have — and the more sexual partners your partner has — the more likely you are to get HPV.
early sexual activity. Having sex at a young age increases the risk of contracting human papillomavirus.
Other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Having other sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV/AIDS increases your risk of contracting human papillomavirus.
Weakened immune system. If your immune system is weakened by another health condition and you have human papillomavirus, you may be more likely to get cervical cancer.
smoking. Smoking is associated with squamous cell cervical cancer.
Exposure to drugs for the prevention of spontaneous abortion. If your mother took a drug called diethylstilbestrol (DES) during pregnancy in the 1950s, you may have an increased risk of a certain type of cervical cancer called clear cell adenocarcinoma.
analysis to find out
Screening tests can help detect cervical cancer and precancerous cells that may one day become cervical cancer. Most guidelines recommend starting screening for cervical cancer and precancerous changes at age 21.
Screening tests include:
Pap smear. During a Pap test, the doctor scrapes and brushes from the cervix to collect cells, which are then examined in a laboratory for abnormalities. A Pap test can find abnormal cells on the cervix, including cancer cells and cells that show changes that increase the risk. of cervical cancer
Human papillomavirus DNA test. Human papillomavirus DNA testing involves testing cells collected from the cervix for infection with any type of human papillomavirus, which is the most common cause of cervical cancer.
Talk to your doctor about cervical cancer screening options.
If cervical cancer is suspected, the doctor will likely do a complete examination of the cervix. A special magnifying instrument (colposcope) is used to check for abnormal cells.
During the colposcopic exam, the doctor will take a sample of cells from the cervix (biopsy) for laboratory testing. To obtain tissue, doctors may use the following:
Punch biopsy, which involves using a sharp instrument to remove small tissue samples from the cervix.
Endocervical curettage, in which a small spoon-sized instrument (curette) or a thin brush is used to scrape a sample of tissue from the cervix.
If the punch biopsy or endocervical curettage raises concerns, your doctor may perform one of the following tests:
Electric wire loop, which uses a fine, low-voltage electrified wire to obtain a small tissue sample. This is usually done under local anesthesia in the office.
Cone biopsy (conization), which is a procedure that allows a doctor to obtain deeper layers of cells from the cervix for laboratory testing. A cone biopsy can be done in a hospital under general anesthesia.
If your doctor determines that you have cervical cancer, you will have further tests to find out the extent (stage) of the cancer. The stage of the cancer is an important factor in deciding about your treatment.
Classification examinations include the following:
Imaging diagnostic tests. Tests such as X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and PET scans help the doctor determine whether cancer has spread outside the cervix.
Visual examination of the bladder and rectum. The doctor may use special scopes to look inside the bladder and rectum.
Cervical cancer treatment depends on several factors, including the stage of the cancer, other health problems you have, and your preferences. Surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or a combination of all three may be used.
In the early stages, cervical cancer is usually treated with surgery. The best operation for you will depend on the size, stage of the cancer and whether you want to consider becoming pregnant in the future.
The options can be:
Surgery only to remove the cancer. A very small cervical cancer can be completely removed with a cone biopsy. In this procedure, a cone-shaped piece of cervical tissue is cut out, but the rest of the cervix is left intact. This option may make it possible for you to consider getting pregnant. in future
Surgery to remove the cervix (trachelectomy). In early stages, cervical cancer can be treated with a radical tracheectomy procedure, which removes the cervix and some of the surrounding tissue. The uterus remains after this procedure, so it may be possible to become pregnant if you wish.
Surgery to remove the cervix and uterus (hysterectomy). Most early-stage cervical cancer is treated with a radical hysterectomy operation, which involves removal of the cervix, uterus, part of the vagina, and nearby lymph nodes. Hysterectomy can cure early stage cervical cancer and prevent its recurrence but removal of the uterus cures it. impossible to get pregnant
Minimally invasive hysterectomy, which involves making several small cuts in the abdomen instead of one large cut, may be an option for early-stage cervical cancer. People who have minimally invasive surgery recover faster and spend less time in the hospital. But some research has found that minimally invasive hysterectomy may be less effective than traditional hysterectomy. If you’re considering minimally invasive surgery, discuss the benefits and risks of this approach with your surgeon.
Radiation therapy uses high-powered energy beams, such as X-rays or protons, to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy is often combined with chemotherapy as the primary treatment for locally advanced cervical cancer. It may also be used after surgery if there is an increased risk of the cancer coming back.
Radiation therapy may be given:
Externally, by directing a beam of radiation at the affected area of the body (external beam radiation therapy).
Internally, by placing an instrument filled with radioactive material inside the vagina, usually for a few minutes (brachytherapy).
both external and internal.
If you haven’t started menopause yet, radiation therapy can cause menopause. If you’re considering becoming pregnant after radiation treatment, ask your doctor about ways to preserve your eggs before treatment begins.
Chemotherapy is a drug treatment that uses chemicals to kill cancer cells. It can be administered intravenously or in pill form. Sometimes both methods are used.
For locally advanced cervical cancer, low-dose chemotherapy is often combined with radiation therapy, as chemotherapy can enhance the effects of radiation. Higher doses of chemotherapy may be recommended to help control the symptoms of very advanced cancer.
Targeted drug therapies target specific vulnerabilities within cancer cells. Targeted drug therapies can cause cancer cell death by blocking these vulnerabilities. Target-specific drug therapy is usually combined with chemotherapy. It may be an option for advanced cervical cancer.
Immunotherapy is a drug therapy that helps your immune system fight cancer. Your body’s disease-fighting immune system cannot attack the cancer because cancer cells make proteins that the immune system cells cannot detect. Immunotherapy works by interfering with that process. For cervical cancer, immunotherapy may be considered when the cancer is advanced and other treatments are not working.
palliative care (compassionate care)
Palliative care is specialized medical care focused 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 additional level of support to supplement your ongoing care.
When palliative care is provided along with all other appropriate treatments, people with cancer can feel better and live longer.
Palliative care comes from a team of specially trained doctors, nurses and other professionals. Palliative care teams seek to improve the quality of life of people with cancer and their families. This type of care is given as a curative or in combination with other treatment you may be having.
With information from Mayo Clinic
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