Cervical cancer forms in a woman’s cervix that are between the entrance of the uterus and the vagina. Most of the Cervical cancer recorded in women are mainly linked to the high-risk human papillomaviruses (HPV), which is the common virus transmitted through sexual intercourse. With the HPV infection, there is the possibility of no signs and symptoms, which could then persist in causing cervical cancer in women. Based on facts and figures, it has been established that Cervical Cancer is the fourth most common type in women. About 570,000 women were estimated to be diagnosed with cervical cancer worldwide, while about 311000 died due to the diseases. In most cases, the only way to effectively prevent cervical cancer is through vaccination against HPV and implementing secondary prevention approach, which could be regular screening.
However, the good news is that if cervical cancer is detected early, it is one of the most successfully treatable forms of cancer in women. Generally, cancer diagnosed at a very late stage can also be treated, controlled, and salvaged through palliative care from medical experts. Besides, with an intensive, comprehensive approach, through proper screening, treatment, and prevention methods, cervical cancer can be easily eliminated from the public health system within a generation. Indeed, the best possible action against cervical cancer is through prevention and vaccination against the virus. More so, staying faithful to a partner is the best way to achieve more holistic prevention quickly. With the advanced screening and test methods that have been implemented through modern screening tools, cervical cancer has significantly decreased over the past years. Although this does not mean the disease has been eradicated, it shows a continuous improvement in the data of people who are battling with the disease.
Although not all patients battling cervical cancer experience these symptoms, it is widespread to have some symptoms show up at a particular stage of cancer. The symptoms might only showcase until cervical cancer has developed to an advanced stage, making it impossible to feel the symptoms at the early stage of cancer. Some of the symptoms that might be occurring if you are suffering from cervical cancer include
Sometimes, cervical cancer might mimic the monthly menstrual period in women, making it difficult for them to detect if something is wrong or abnormal. The patient might notice a heavier flow of her menstrual cycle or a longer menstrual cycle which is more than the usual regular days. When you notice bleeding between your previous period and your next one and any irregularities with your period, it is advisable to seek medical help and report to a doctor. In addition, you might notice bleeding after you have attained menopause, which could be years after you have experienced your last period. In the event of this irregular virginal bleeding, you should immediately report to your doctor to check what the cause might be.
Pelvic pain: sometimes, women experience excruciating pain in the pelvic region for often no particular reason they can think of. Besides, some patients feel pain in the lower back region, and it might occur as a sharp pain or pressure. This often occurs in the lower region of the abdomen below the belly button.
Vaginal Discharge: Some discharge from the vaginal is healthy, especially if the discharge is clear, slightly yellowish, or milky. However, if you notice any changes in the previous consistent color that you are used to, awful odor, this should be immediately investigated by medical experts. Red-tinged discharge from the vaginal is mainly related to cervical cancer and often accompanied by a small bloodstain. Therefore, women are advanced to monitor any discharge before or after the menstrual cycle and watch out for the possibility of an increase in the discharge.
Pain During sexual intercourse: other significant symptoms of cervical cancer could be pain during sexual intercourse, although that does not apply to every woman. There could also be some bleeding after the sex, which could be a sign associated with cervical cancer.
You must discuss these symptoms with your doctor, as other conditions could trigger these signs and symptoms in a woman’s body. Meanwhile, some advanced symptoms are associated with advanced cervical cancer, spread within the pelvic region or form tumors elsewhere in the woman’s body. There are some of the signs that are associated with advanced cervical cancer; Blood in the urine, Leakage of urine or feces from the vagina, leg pain or swelling, back pain.
Cervical cancers are typically classified based on how they look during microscopic view in the laboratory. The primary main types of cervical cancers are squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. Here are some facts about types of cervical cancer
- About 90 percent of cervical cancers are categorized as squamous cell carcinoma. This type of cancer develops from the cells in the cervix, which is most often joins with the endocervix and continues to advance in stages.
- The other types of cancer are categorized as adenocarcinomas. These types of cancers are only known to develop from the mucus-producing glands cell of the interior of the cervix.
- The less commonly cervical cancers can combine the features of the two above named types of cancer. These condition types of cancer are called mixed carcinomas.
- Small cell cancer is another type of cervical cancer that is quite rare, and only about 3 percent of women are diagnosed with this type of cancer.
- As you have understood above that the most common types of cervical cancer are either squamous cell carcinomas or adenocarcinomas there are some other types of cancer. This cancer is known as melanoma, lymphoma, and sarcoma, commonly developed in other parts of the body.
The cause and risk factors of cervical cancer are pretty numerous, aided by some factors such as DNA mutation. Cells in the cervix develop changes due to the mutation it has undergone and could result in cervical cancer. Generally, a cell embodies instructions that specify what it should function as in the body. If the instruction has been altered, then there would be a resulting problem for the individual’s health condition. Typically, healthy cells grow and continuously multiply until their set time to die; however, mutated cells do replicate grow and become very abnormal, which multiply out of control and do not eventually die at the appropriate time. The outgrown cells that are abnormal in the body accumulate and form a tumor that would permanently stay in the body if not treated. Gradually the cancerous cells in the cervix invade the nearby tissues by breaking off from the pre-existing tumor and spread to the other parts of the body. The primary cause of cervical cancer is HPV, which plays a significant role in forming these diseases. Although HPV is a common virus, some people living with the virus never develop cancer but also show that other risk factors contribute to the cause of cervical cancer in women.
Knowing the risk factors that can consciously increase the possibility of cervical cancer would help you understand what you should avoid and the possible challenges you might face. Here are some factors that might raise the causes of cervical cancer in your body:
Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection: This is the most critical risk factor that should be considered as most cervical cancer is associated with this virus infection. Most people who are sexually active come in contact with the virus, while some people live with the virus without any health implications. Besides, there are more than 100 different types of HPV, and not all these viruses are linked with cervical cancer. HPV 16 and HPV 18 are the ones most frequently associated with cervical cancer. Besides, becoming sexually active at an early age or having multiple sexual partners increases your risk of contracting the HPV type of virus, which can ultimately lead to cervical cancer.
Immune system deficiency: The immune system is responsible for fighting many diseases in the body, and if you are suffering from a weak immune system, you might be at the risk of developing cervical cancer. A lowered immune system is a potential risk to the individual and can result from organ transplantation, treatments for other types of cancer, corticosteroid medications, or the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). People living with HIV would have a less reliable immune system to fight off early cancer in their bodies.
Women with herpes: Most women with herpes are at a higher risk of developing cervical cancer condition.
Smoking: Consumption of tobacco products such as smoking or smokeless tobacco product increases the risk of developing cervical cancer in women.
Some other factors contributing to the increase in risk factors of cervical cancer are Oral contraceptives, Exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES), and age and socioeconomic factors.
There are several standard tests, procedures, and screening methods carried out on patients susceptible to cervical cancer. This test, procedure and other screening methods are carried out to ascertain the level, stage and extent to which cervical cancer has gone. In addition, this scan is carried out to identify potential damages that have been done to the body.
Doctors may instruct you as a patient to carry out numerous tests and screening methods to diagnose, find and test the possibility of cervical cancer in your body. More so, the test is conducted to determine if the cancer is still contained at the original starting point in the body or it has spread across to other organs of the body. For instance, an imaging test can be conducted to show if cancer has spread, as the imaging test shows the internal picture of the body. Besides, the diagnosis method can be done to understand which treatment method would work perfectly and easily combat cervical cancer.
Often for most types of cancer to be detected and appropriately understood, a biopsy is one the surest means of determining if the body part of an individual is affected by cancer. To carry out a biopsy, the doctor extracts a small portion of the body tissue for testing at the lab; however, if the possibility of biopsy is very slim, the doctor might suggest other alternative testing methods.
There is undoubtedly another testing option that can help diagnose and test for the presence of cancer in the body. Note that not all the available test options are recommended for every patient as patients’ needs vary individually. You might have to consult with your medical personnel before choosing which test is best suited for you. Here are some test methods that can be used to diagnose the presence of cervical cancer in your body:
- Bimanual pelvic examination and sterile speculum examination. This examination is conducted to check for any unusual changes in the patient’s pelvic region. A part of the pelvic region that is check includes the ovaries, uterus, vagina, and other organs around the pelvic region. First, the medical expert would examine any changes that might occur outside the body around the vulva and then use a unique medical instrument to check what the vaginal wall looks like. During this examination process, a Pap test might also be conducted at the same time. Although some of the organs around the pelvic region might not be visible during this test, the doctor might go ahead and insert 2 fingers into the vaginal and use the other hand to press the lower part of the abdomen for any irregularities.
- HPV typing test: Another means of detecting cervical cancer in any patient’s body is to carry out an HPV testing which is primarily similar to a Pap test. The test is conducted on the cell samples that are extracted from the cervix. As it is known that some strain of HPV can cause cervical cancer, such as HPV 16 and HPV 18, which is most common in women with cervical cancer. If there is a positive indication of this HPV strain in the woman’s body, the patient is at high risk of developing cervical cancer.
- Colposcopy. The doctor might have to carry out a colposcopy test to inspect the abdominal region for any abnormality. Colposcopy can also be used to help guide a biopsy of the cervix.
Although some other test methods are conducted to diagnose cervical cancer, not all tests are conducted on every patient.
Several types of treatment methods are employed towards cervical cancer treatment, and they might include clinical trials and many other standards of care methods. The treatment overview varies from patient to patient as there are different types and stages of cervical cancer.
Several medical practitioners work together to proffer reliable solutions to cancer’s primary cause during cancer care and prevent further spread if detected early enough. The cancer treatment team includes health care professionals, nurse practitioners, oncologist nurses, social workers, therapists, counselors, dieticians and others.
Treating cervical cancer is dependent on several factors, which might include the stage of cancer, the possible side effect that might occur during and after treatment, the patient’s overall wellbeing. Here are some of the treatment options available for cervical cancer:
After proper diagnosis of cancer, the tumor detected in the patent body might be removed through operation in the theater room. A specialized gynecologic oncologist carries out this procedure, specializing in treating gynecologic-related cancer after the operation. Most often, for cervical cancer that is still contained at the origin, the following methods listed below are employed
- Bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy
- Radical trachelectomy
Here is another way cervical cancer can be effectively treated and eradicated from the patient’s body. Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy x-rays or other radioactive particles to destroy cancer cells. An oncologist is a doctor who specializes in carrying out radiation therapy to treat cancer. Besides, radiation therapy treatment for cervical cancer might be administered alone or given before surgery to help reduce the tumor size. A radiation therapy regimen, or schedule, usually consists of a specific number of treatments given over a set period that combines external and internal radiation treatments. While it can also be combined with other treatment methods to help achieve an effective treatment solution for cervical cancer.
Aside from these treatment methods, other methods can be implemented by the doctor to help treat cancer. These can be therapies using a medication, administered through the bloodstream, systemic therapies for cervical cancer. Other systemic treatment methods can include chemotherapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy and many more.