What is cervical cancer?

Content is medically reviewed by:

Dr. Udaya Kumar Maiya (MBBS, MD, DNB(RT), DCCF (Paris), Medical Director, Portea.

Cervical cancer occurs when cells grow or behave abnormally in the lining of the cervix (the entrance) which is the neck or the narrow part of the lower uterus.

Having many sexual encounters or becoming sexually active in the early ages increases the chances of developing cervical cancer and survival rates are high when cervical cancer symptoms are spotted early on. Your doctor may recommend Pap tests as a preventive measure, and common cervical cancer symptoms include pelvic pain, smelly discharge from the vagina, bleeding before and after periods and discomfort experienced during sexual activity.  Infections may accompany cervical cancer symptoms, and cervical cancer treatment options available are surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or all of them combined.

 

Types of cervical cancer

Cervical cancer types are distinguished between each other by the appearances of the cells under a microscope. There are mainly three types of cervical cancer in women:

-Squamous Cell Carcinomas – 80% to 90% of cervical cancer cases arise from Squamous cell Carcinomas, which is a cervical cancer definition for thin, flat cells lining up at the bottom of the cervix.

-Adenocarcinomas – When cancerous tumours develop in glandular cells lining the upper portion of the cervix, it is then referred to as Adenocarcinomas.

-Metastatic Cervical Cancer – When cervical cancer spreads to different areas of the body, it is known as Metastatic Cervical Cancer.

 

What are some of the cervical cancer causes?

Cancer is when cells grow abnormally in the body and divide uncontrollably. Cells in the human body have a natural lifespan, and when they die, new cells kickstart production and replace them. Cancer happens when cells do not die or continue dividing. The main cervical cancer causes in women:

-Sexually transmitted viruses like the HPV (human papillomavirus) are cervical cancer causes. 13 out of 100 of HPV types contribute towards cervical cancer in women

-Multiple sexual partners and becoming sexually active early on leads to possible transmission of STDs which lead to cervical cancer

-Smoking

-Weak immune systems, people using immunosuppressive medications, and people who are affected with HIV or AIDs

-High stress levels over a prolonged period which leads to destructive habits like drinking and smoking cigarettes

-Women who give birth at the age of 17 or younger face an increased risk of developing cervical cancer. Multiple pregnancies also increase the chances of developing cervical cancer symptoms.

-Using too many birth control pills slightly increases the risk for developing this illness.

Diagnosis of cervical cancer

Cervical cancer screening tests are used to pinpoint the stages of this illness. Your doctor may recommend various cervical cancer diagnosis tests for its prevention and treatment which are as follows:

-HPV DNA Test– HPV DNA testing (PAP test) reveals whether there are any high-risk HPV strains in the patient’s cell DNA which is a clear indicator of whether any cervix cell abnormalities will appear later.

-Colonoscopy – The vagina is visually examined for determining any abnormal cell tissues in its lining using a speculum and a magnifying instrument.

-Biopsy – A small portion of your cervical tissue is extracted in the cervical cancer test using general anaesthesia.

-Blood Tests– Blood tests reveal kidney and liver dysfunctions which result from the spreading of cervical cancer.

-CT Scans – Abnormalities are detected using a barium liquid in this cervical cancer diagnosis.

-MRI – There are special types of MRI used for pinpointing early cervical cancer symptoms and signs in women

-Pelvic Ultrasound – Imaging of the pelvis is done using pelvic ultrasound which uses high-frequency sound waves to locate abnormalities.

 

Cervical cancer treatment

Cervical cancer treatment methods will depend on the doctor’s diagnosis, patient’s age, health, and current stage of cancer. The success rate for treatment options depends on whether or not the cancer is restricted to the cervix or has already spread to other areas of the body. These are the cervical cancer treatment options for women:

-Surgery:

Surgery is the common cervical cancer treatment method in women, and if your doctor believes that cancerous cells are present in your body, he may recommend radiotherapy to reduce future cases of occurrence.

-Radiotherapy:

Radiation therapy or radiotherapy is used to destroy cancer cells by using high-powered energy beams like X-rays or particular radiation. This treatment method comes with certain side effects like diarrhoea, nausea, premature menopause, constriction of the vagina and bladder irritations, after completion of treatment.

-Chemotherapy:

Medications are used in chemotherapy to destroy cancer cells in the body. Chemotherapy is used when normal surgery fails to destroy these cells, and side effects are based on the types of drugs used in this procedure. Most noted side effects of chemotherapy are infertility, diarrhoea, fatigue, and hair loss.

-Clinical Trials:

Clinical trials are an experimental route for those seeking cervical cancer treatment, and this method is used primarily for cancer research. All new and innovative treatments are the fruition of successful clinical trials in the past.

When do you need us?

Advanced stages of cervical cancer require the love and support patients need to increase their chances for recovery and survival. Palliative care lies at the heart of cervical cancer treatment at home post-surgery or post-medical therapies. Diet, nutrition and exercises play a key role in recovery, and this is where our team of nurses and homecare professionals provide cervical cancer care at home. If the condition is serious and requires major intervention, they would recommend surgery for the type of cervical cancer stages associated with the patient.

 

How we can help

Professional home-care services helps patients recover or continue life beyond surgery. Our home nursing services ensure that you get the same high-quality treatment as what you’d expect from a hospital from the comfort of your home. Our nurses for cervical cancer care visit your home, take a cervical cancer diagnostic test, and design your customised treatment plan after reviewing medical reports. Diet and nutrition support are included with our cervical cancer home treatment services.

 

Summary

Cervical cancer is treatable at its early stages, and quality of life can be improved beyond the scope of surgery. However, patients may have to make certain lifestyle and nutrition changes to prolong life and recover from the after-effects of a surgery.

 

Ratings by patients

 

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References:

https://www.webmd.com/cancer/cervical-cancer/cervical-cancer#1

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cervical_cancer

http://www.nccc-online.org/hpvcervical-cancer/cervical-cancer-overview/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cervical-cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20352501

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