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Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer occurs in the cells of the cervix which is the lower part of the uterus and connects to the vagina. It occurs when the cells in the woman’s cervix change. It can affect the deeper tissues of the cervix and spread to other parts of the body as well. All women are at risk of cervical cancer and it occurs most often in women over the age of 30.

Most cervical cancer cases are caused by HPV which is a sexually transmitted infection. However, HPV infection can easily be prevented by vaccines.

Causes of Cervical Cancer

  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV-16 and HPV-18)
  • HIV infection
  • Chlamydia infection
  • Obesity
  • Long term use of oral contraceptives
  • Family history

Symptoms of Cervical Cancer

  • Unusual bleeding
  • Pain in the pelvis
  • Frequent urination
  • Painful urination
  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • Painful intercourse
  • Heavier and longer menstrual bleeding than usual

Prevention of Cervical Cancer

  • Timely vaccination
  • Limit the number of sexual partners
  • Practice safe sex

Diagnosis of Cervical Cancer

  • Pap test – In this, the doctor scrapes and brushes cells from the cervix that are then examined in the lab. It can detect abnormal cells and show changes
  • HPV DNA Test – It involves testing the cells collected from the cervix for infections with any type of HPV
  • Biopsy – It includes pinching off a small sample of cervical tissue for examination
  • Imaging tests– Tests like CT Scan, MRI, X-Ray and PET Scan may help the doctor examine if cancer has spread beyond the cervix

Treatment of Cervical Cancer

  • Surgery – It aims at the removal of the tumor. In some cases, the removal of the uterus, including the cervix might become necessary as well
  • Radiation therapy – This treatment uses high-energy radiations like X-Rays to kill the cancer cell or prevent them from dividing further. The way this treatment is given depends upon the nature and stage of cancer
  • Chemotherapy – It uses drugs to halt the growth of cancer cells. It might kill the cells or prevent them from dividing further. It can be done either intravenously or orally. The drugs enter the bloodstream and reach the cancer cells across the body
  • Targeted Therapy – It is the use of specific drugs that are designed specifically to target cervical cancer cells. It doesn’t harm the other normal cells
  • Immunotherapy – This treatment uses the patient’s immune system to fight against cancer itself. Specific substances made are used to boost or restore the body’s natural defenses against cancer. It is also called biotherapy