This is a type of cancer which takes its root from the lower end of the uterus which is in contact with the upper vagina (uterine cervix). At the moment, cervical cancer still remains one of the leading causes of deaths among women in developing countries who lack access to screening or vaccines.
Cervical cancer if detected early has a very high rate of being cured. It can be prevented through vaccination.
Causes of Cervical Cancer
The occurrence of cervical cancer has been linked to an ongoing infection with one of the human papillomaviruses (HPVs). Some of the activities which can increase the risk of this infection include the following;
- Having a first full-term pregnancy before age 17
- Having three or more full-term pregnancies
- HIV infection
- Immune system suppression
- Long-term use of oral contraceptives (although the risk returns to normal when the contraceptive pills are discontinued)
- Past or current Chlamydia infection
- Tobacco smoking
Signs and Symptoms of Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer does not produce any symptom in its early stages. However, as the infection progresses, it may produce some symptoms such as;
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding (the most common)
- Bleeding or spotting between periods
- Longer or heavier menstrual periods than usual
- Other abnormal vaginal discharge
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Vaginal bleeding after menopause
- Vaginal bleeding after sex
Stages of Cervical Cancer
A stage is described as an extent to which the cancer has spread in the body at the time of diagnosis. This is very vital for determining the best treatment measure to be adopted. The stages of cancer as agreed upon by the AJCC (American Joint Committee on Cancer) and FIGO (International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics) includes;
- Stage 0: where the cancer is not invasive. The cancerous cells are only lying on the surface of the cervix. This is also referred to as Carcinoma in situ (CIS).
- Stage I: this is characterized by a small amount of tumor which has not spread to any distant sites or of the lymph nodes.
- Stage II: the cancer has spread beyond the uterus and cervix but has not invaded the pelvic walls.
- Stage III: the cancer has grown into the pelvis walls or lower parts of the vagina.
- Stage IV: this is characterized by the spreading of the cancer to the rectum or bladder
Diagnosis of Cervical Cancer
Some of the tests that can be used for the detection of cervical cancer include the following;
- HPV Testing (with or without liquid based cytology)
- Colposcopy: this is the examination of the external cervix surface during a pelvic examination.
- Cystoscopy: this is the examination of the interior urinary bladder using a microscope
This is largely dependent on the stage of the cancer. The treatment procedures are listed below.
- Radiation therapy
- Targeted therapy
You can make an appointment with Dr Kenny on 07 3188 5000.
This article is written to be informative and does not substitute seeking a professional consultation from a medical professional.