Cervical cancer is a form of cancer that affects the cells of the cervix, the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. It is caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), a virus that is generally transmitted through sexual contact. Cervical cancer is the second most common type of cancer amongst Indian women and makes up 16.5 per cent of the total cancer cases.What are the symptoms of cervical cancer?
Cervical cancer can stay dormant for a long period of time. Most women don’t even realize they have cervical cancer until the late stages. When symptoms do show up, they can be easily mistaken for other conditions, such as menstrual periods and urinary tract infections (UTIs). Here are the symptoms of cervical cancer that you need to look out for:
- Vaginal discharge that can have an unusual odour
- Unusual vaginal bleeding in between periods or after intercourse and menopause
- Recurring pain in the pelvis
- Painful urination
Cervical cancer is easily treatable if diagnosed in early stages. So if you experience these symptoms for more than a week, you must consult with the doctor for prompt evaluation.Screening & diagnosis
Screening tests can detect the precancerous cells that may turn malignant in future. For an accurate diagnosis, our doctors will perform screening tests to examine the cervix and to take a tissue sample for the biopsy. These screening tests include:
- Visual examination: Our doctor may use special scopes to see inside your bladder and rectum to check for cancer or infection.
- Pap test: During the test, our doctor scrapes cells from the cervix wall to detect abnormal growths and cancer cells.
- HPV DNA test: The cells collected from the cervix are also tested for infections, such as HPV that may cause cervical cancer.
- Biopsy: If the cancer is suspected, our doctor is likely to take a sample of cervical cells (biopsy) for laboratory testing.
If the screening tests confirm cancer, further tests will be required to determine how much the disease has spread (metastasized). To determine whether cancer has spread beyond the cervix, doctors will recommend imaging tests, such as X-ray, CT, MRI and positron emission tomography (PET).Treatment:
Cervical cancer is treatable when detected early. If cervical cancer that’s caught in the early stages, the five-year survival rate goes up to 92 per cent. However, if cancer has spread within the pelvic area, it drops to 56 per cent. Based on cancer’s spread, possible complications and the patient’s preference, our doctors will recommend the most viable treatment option for cervical cancer.
Local treatments – Local treatments like surgery and radiation therapy aim at removing cancer from a specific area of the body where it is localized. These can help to completely get rid of cancer when it is in an early stage. These treatments are:Surgery:
In early-stage, surgery is the most-effective for cervical cancer. The purpose of surgery is to remove as much cancer as possible, which depends on its size and stage. Our doctors will surgically remove the cancer cells that may involve removing the cervix and other organs in the pelvis. The most common types of cervical cancer surgery are:
- Laser Surgery is performed for early stage cancer. Your doctor will use a laser beam to burn off the cancer cells on cervix. They may also cut a small piece of tissue for examination in a lab.
- Cone surgery is a minimally invasive surgery to remove cancer entirely with a cone biopsy. Our doctors will cut away a cone-shaped piece of cervical tissue, leaving the rest of the cervix intact.
- Trachelectomy is organ conserving surgery for saving the uterus for childbirth .If you still want to be able to have kids, your doctor may recommend a trachelectomy.
- Hysterectomy During this surgery, the surgeon removes the uterus and the adjoining lymph nodes. They’ll also remove about 1 inch of the vagina next to cervix.
Systemic treatments– It involves the use of certain medication to destroy the cancer cells. These are prescribed by medical oncologist and include the following:Chemotherapy:
In chemotherapy, our doctors will use a group anticancer to stop cancer from spreading. Cancer cells absorb the drugs faster than normal cells, thus slowing their growth. These drugs can be delivered through a vein or a central venous catheter.