Cervical cancer refers to cancer that develops in the cells of the cervix. The cervix is present in the lower part of the female reproductive system that connects the vagina to the uterus.
Cervical cancer starts when cells in the lining of the cervix start dividing repeatedly and grow out of control, forming a tissue mass. It accounts for 16.5% of total cancer in women in India. It is one of the most common cancers that affect women. It occurs mainly in the age group of 35 to 40 years.
Types of Cervical Cancer
There are mainly two types of cervical cancer, which are:
- Adenocarcinoma – cancer begins in the column-shaped glandular cells of the cervical canal.
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma – cancer begins in the thin, flat-shaped cells that line the outer part of the cervix.
Symptoms of Cervical Cancer
The general signs and symptoms of cervical cancer are:
- Watery discharge from the vagina with a foul odor.
- Difficult and painful urination
- Blood in urine
- Having heavier and longer menstruation
- Bleeding from the vagina after sexual intercourse
- Abdominal pain
- Pain in the pelvic area
- Swelling in the legs
- Fatigue, loss of appetite, and weight
- Bleeding while passing stools
- Bleeding after menopause
- Discomfort during sex
Causes of Cervical Cancer
The various factors which increase the chances of cervical cancer are:
- Increased age
- A history of sexually transmitted diseases
- Human papillomavirus infection
- Having multiple sex partners
- Having a weak immune system
- Poor hygiene
- Birth control pills or contraceptive pills
- Exposure to certain chemicals and radiation
- Having a miscarriage
- Having sex at an early stage
Diagnosis of Cervical Cancer
At HCG Manavata Cancer Center, we house some of the top cervical cancer specialists in Nashik, who are experienced in accurately diagnosing and appropriately managing cervical cancers. The various tests performed for the diagnosis of cervical cancer are:
- Pap Smear: Cells from the surface of the cervix are collected through scraping and examined under a microscope.
- Punch Biopsy: A small piece of tissue is collected from the cervix using a special instrument called ‘biopsy forceps’ and examined under the microscope.
- Colposcopy: It is performed using an instrument called a colposcope that gives a highly magnified view of the cervix tissue.
X-ray: The images of the inside of the cervix are produced using x-rays.
- Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan: It produces 3D detailed images of the cervix, which helps in examining this region for the presence of the tumor.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): MRI helps in staging cervical cancer. Furthermore, it is also used for monitoring the treatment response.
- Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan: A small amount of radioactive substance is injected, which is taken up by cancerous cells. It acts as a contrast medium. The regions where the cancerous cells are present appear as bright spots, which makes it easy for the doctor to look for the presence of a tumor.
Treatment for Cervical Cancer
HCG Manavata Cancer Center is fortified with advanced technology and has a strong pool of oncologists who tirelessly work towards delivering the best cervical cancer treatment in Nashik. Common types of treatment for cervical cancer include:
Surgery: It is the first line of treatment for early-stage cervical cancer. The different types of surgery carried out by doctors are:
- Trachelectomy – the surgeon removes the cervix along with a small portion of the nearby healthy tissue.
- Hysterectomy – the surgeon removes the cervix along with the uterus.
- Pelvic Exenteration – the surgeon removes the cervix, uterus, and all the nearby organs. This procedure is considered for advanced cervical cancer cases.
Radiation Therapy: It is used to kill or slow down the growth of cancerous cells using a powered beam of X-rays. It is mainly used for advanced-stage cancer or cancer that comes back after treatment. Radiation therapy can be given internally by placing radioactive material close to the tumor or by using a machine that focuses the radiation on the tumor.
Chemotherapy: Anti-cancer drugs are given orally or intravenously to kill cancerous cells. Chemotherapy is usually given in cycles followed by a rest period to allow the body to recover. A combination of two or more anti-cancer drugs is usually used. It is used to treat cervical cancer, which spreads to other areas or comes back.
Immunotherapy: The use of drugs to boost the patient’s immune system to recognize and fight cancerous cells is called immunotherapy. It is usually considered when cancer is in an advanced stage and other treatment methods are not working. Immunotherapy is generally given intravenously every three weeks.
Targeted Therapy: This therapy targets the protein that helps cancerous cells grow and survive in the body. This treatment approach is highly targeted, i.e., only the cervical cancer cells are destroyed, whereas the healthy cells are left intact.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How can I prevent cervical cancer?
Regular medical screening and vaccination against HIV are some ways to lower the risk of cervical cancer. Having safe sex practices can help in reducing the risk of cervical cancer.
2. What is the life expectancy for women with cervical cancer?
The survival rates are excellent when the cancer is detected at an early stage and is confined to the cervix. The other factors that impact the survival rate are the stage of the disease, age, the patient’s overall health status, and the treatment response shown by the patient.
3. Can I get pregnant after my cervical cancer treatment?
This depends on the type of cancer treatment you’ve undergone. Women can still get pregnant after trachelectomy. However, you should consult your doctor before planning a pregnancy.
4. What are the possible side effects of cervical cancer treatment?
The side effects of the treatment of cervical cancer vary from person to person. It also depends on the treatment method and dose of drugs or radiation used. However, the most common side effects are nausea, vomiting, hair loss, fatigue, loss of appetite, mouth soreness, vagina dryness, bladder irritation, change in the menstrual cycle, and many more.