Cervical Cancer. A common class of cancer in women is a disease in which cancer (malignant) cells are found in the tissues of the cervix, opening of the uterus, and the pear- shaped hollow organ where the fetus develops , and connects it to the vagina (birth canal).
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- 1 Causes
- 2 Symptoms
- 3 Diagnosis
- 4 Cervical Cancer Classification
- 5 Cervical Cancer Treatment
- 1 Surgery
- 2 Radiotherapy
- 3 Chemotherapy
- 6 Prevention
- 7 External links
- 8 Sources
It is now known that a major risk factor is infection with the human papilloma virus (HPV), which is transmitted through sexual contact. Some types of HPV can cause changes in the cells of the cervix. If these changes are found early, cancer can be prevented by removing or destroying the altered cells before they become cancer cells. There is an efficient vaccine on the market to protect against infection by this virus, which should ideally be supplied before the start of sexual life in women.
It is very important that all women who have started their sexual life periodically undergo the Pap test, which allows detecting cellular changes at the beginning.
In addition, it is known that there are other factors that increase the risk: tobacco consumption , a weakened immune system, having multiple sexual partners, among others.
In its early stages, cervical cancer does not cause symptoms. When the tumor has grown, women may notice one or more of the following symptoms:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
- Bleeding that occurs between regular menstrual periods
- Bleeding after sexual intercourse, vaginal washing, or pelvic examination
- Longer and more abundant menstrual periods than before
- Bleeding after menopause
- Increased vaginal discharge
- Pelvic pain
- Pain during sexual intercourse
These symptoms can be caused by infections or other health problems. Only a doctor can determine for sure. If you have any of these symptoms, visit your gynecologist .
The best diagnostic method available is called a Pap test, a test that is used to examine cells in the cervix. This examination is taken during the consultation with your gynecologist, who will take a sample of cells that will then be examined under a microscope in the pathology laboratory. If the results are abnormal, your doctor may suggest other tests, including colposcopy and biopsy.
Cervical Cancer Classification
After cervical cancer has been found (diagnosed), more tests will be done to find out if cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body. This process is known as staging. The doctor needs to know the stage of the disease to plan the appropriate treatment. The following stages are used in the classification of cervical cancer:
- Stage 0 or carcinoma in situ: Carcinoma in situ is an early stage cancer. The abnormal cells are found only in the first layer of cells that line the cervix and do not invade the deeper tissues of the cervix.
- Stage I: Cancer affects the cervix, but has not spread to the surroundings.
- Stage IA: A very small amount of cancer that is only visible through a microscope is found in the deepest tissue of the cervix
- Stage IB: More cancer is found in the tissue of the cervix
- Stage II: Cancer has spread to nearby regions, but is still in the pelvic region.
- Stage IIA: Cancer has spread outside the cervix to the upper two thirds of the vagina
- Stage IIB: Cancer has spread to tissue around the cervix
- Stage III: Cancer has spread to the entire pelvic region. Cancer cells may have spread to the bottom of the vagina. The cells may also have spread to block the tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder (the ureters).
- Stage IV: Cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
- Stage VAT: Cancer has spread to the bladder or rectum (organs near the cervix)
- Stage IVB: Cancer has spread to distal organs such as the lungs
- Recurrent: Recurrent disease means that the cancer has come back (come back) after it has been treated. It may return to the cervix or to another location.
Cervical Cancer Treatment
There are treatments for all patients with cervical cancer. Three classes of treatment are used:
- Surgery: removal of the cancer in an operation.
- Radiation therapy — use of high-energy x-rays or other high-energy rays to kill cancer cells
- Chemotherapy: use of drugs to kill cancer cells.
The doctor may use one of several types of surgery available for carcinoma in situ to destroy the cancerous tissue:
- Cryosurgery involves freezing cancer.
- Laser beam surgery involves using an intense beam of light to kill cancer cells.
The doctor can remove the cancer using one of the following operations:
Conization is the removal of a cone-shaped piece of tissue at the site of the abnormality. Conization can be used to remove a piece of tissue for biopsy, but it can also be used to treat early cancer of the cervix.
- Electrosurgical excision
Another option is for the doctor to perform an electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) to remove the abnormal tissue. The LEEP uses an electric current passed through a thin wire ring that serves as a blade. A laser beam can also be used as a blade to remove the tissue.
A hysterectomy is an operation in which the uterus and cervix are removed in addition to cancer. If the uterus is removed through the vagina, the operation is called a vaginal hysterectomy. If it is removed through a cut (incision) in the abdomen , the operation is called a total abdominal hysterectomy. Sometimes the ovaries and fallopian tubes are also removed; This procedure is called a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy.
Radical hysterectomy is an operation in which the cervix, uterus, and part of the vagina are removed. Lymph nodes from the region are also removed. This procedure is called lymph node dissection. (Lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped structures found throughout the body that are intended to produce and store cells that fight infection.)
If cancer has spread outside the cervix or
female organs , the doctor may remove the lower colon, rectum, or bladder (depending on where the cancer has spread) along with the cervix, uterus, and vagina. This procedure is called exenteration and is rarely needed. Sometimes plastic surgery is necessary to form an artificial vagina after this operation.
Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy x-rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation can come from a machine outside the body (external radiation therapy) or can be derived from radiation-producing materials (radioisotopes) through thin plastic tubes that are applied to the area where the cancer cells are located (internal radiation). Radiotherapy can be used alone or in addition to surgery.
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. It can be taken in the form of pills or it can be deposited in the body by means of a needle inserted into the vein. Chemotherapy is considered a systemic treatment since the drug is introduced into the bloodstream, travels through the body, and can kill cancer cells outside the cervix.
Cervical cancer prevention methods:
• Human papillomavirus vaccine.
• Regular Pap test.
• Avoid relationships with multiple sexual partners.
• No Smoking.
• Do not drink.
• If there is a history of genital warts, get a Pap smear every 6 months.
• If you have more than one sexual partner, insist that they use condoms to prevent the spread of a sexually transmitted disease.
The cervical cancer vaccine was recently approved and is used routinely in some countries. The vaccine is recommended for women over 11 years old. However, the vaccine prevents this type of cancer but does not cure it: no vaccine cures, but all prevent a certain disease.