Cervical cancer is a cancer arising from the cervix. It is the abnormal growth of cells that invade or spread to other parts of the body. Worldwide, cervical cancer is both the fourth most common cause of cancer and deaths from cancer in women. During the initial stages of the disease there are no typical symptoms but as the disease progresses, patients can experience abnormal vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain or pain during sexual intercourse. Symptoms of advanced cervical cancer include: loss of appetite, weight loss, fatigue, pelvic pain, back pain, leg pain, and swollen legs, heavy bleeding from the vagina, bone fractures, and/or (rarely) leakage of urine or faeces from the vagina. Cervical cancer develops from precancerous changes over 10 to 20 years. Diagnosis is by cervical screening (PAP smear test) followed by a biopsy. Medical imaging done to determine the spread of cancer. Cervical cancers are radiosensitive; radiation may be used in all stages where surgical options do not exist.
The surgical procedures for cervical cancer are of different types and can be performed in procedure room and also in the operation theater. They under local, spinal or general anaesthesia based on the type of procedure used. The choice of procedure is based on the stage of the cancer. Stage 0 cancers are treated in situ only destroying the cancerous cells. The noninvasive cancers (stage 0) are treated with Cryosurgery (metal probe using nitrogen by killing abnormal cells by freezing), Laser surgery (burning off abnormal cells by focus beam) and Colonisation (removal of tissues with laser knife). As the stage advances, removal of the cervix and uterus is necessary. Hysterectomy is performed to remove the uterus (both the body of the uterus and the cervix. There are different types of hysterectomy procedures and the surgeon will decide based on the scope and extent of the cancer and the age of the patient. Most women with stage IA2 and stage IB cervical cancer are treated with hysterectomy. Another procedure, known as a radical trachelectomy, allows women be treated without losing their ability to have children. This procedure removes the cervix and the upper part of the vagina but not the body of the uterus. Following the surgical procedures the patient is treated with chemotherapy by the oncologists and will also be subjected to radiation based on the stage of the cancer and the surgical procedure used by the radiation oncologist.
Cervical cancers are curable if treated early and appropriately by the specialists.
Like any other cancer intensive treatment is required to treat cervical cancer. Patient and the family member must discuss the scope and extend of the disease, its severity and the treatment option prior to initiator of therapy. All the health concerns must be addressed to in advance. The treatment follow up plan must be followed and should not be missed. All the other concomitant illness must be controlled and the patient must remain in stable physiological and psychological state. Patient must inform the surgeon and his team of allergies if any and entire medical history.
What are the symptoms of cervical cancer?
Symptoms of advanced cervical cancer are abnormal vaginal bleeding, unusual heavy vaginal discharge, painful intercourse, and painful urination, bleeding after intercourse, between periods or after a pelvic exam.
What is a Pap test?
The Pap test (sometimes called a Pap smear) is a way to examine cells collected from the cervix (the lower, narrow end of the uterus). The main purpose of the Pap test is to find abnormal cell changes that may arise from cervical cancer or before cancer develops.
Are there any ways to prevent cervical cancer?
Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers. If caught early, the five-year survival rate is almost 100%. Regular Pap testing is the best method to protect against invasive cervical cancer.
What is lymph node dissection?
Lymph nodes are pea-sized collections of immune system tissue. The cancer can spread from cervix to the lymph node. The surgeon might remove some of these lymph nodes to check the spread of cancer. . This procedure is known as a lymph node dissection or lymph node sampling.
Can the cervical cancer recur?
Yes; there is always a possibility of recurrence of cancer. Once the cervix is surgically removed usually patient is caner free following chemotherapy and radiation. In may recur after few years in few patients as secondary cancer in some other parts of the body.
Myomectomy, sometimes also fibroidectomy, refers to the surgical removal of uterine leiomyomas, also known as fibroids.
Colposcopy is a medical diagnostic procedure to examine an illuminated, magnified view of the cervix and the tissues of the vagina and vulva. Many premalignant lesions and malignant lesions in these areas have discernible characteristics which can be detected through the examination.
Hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus or womb. Depending upon the type of procedure that is performed and the reason for the surgery, hysterectomy may also include removal of the adjacent Fallopian tubes and ovaries. Hysterectomy is the most common major surgical procedure (unrelated to pregnancy) performed on women.