Cervical cancer is a common cause of cancer death in women in developing countries. It begins in the uterine cervix, which is the lower end of the uterus that contacts the upper vagina. Cervical cancer is different from uterine or endometrial cancer. Early detection of cancer could increase the survival rate. The post gives a brief overview of the types, symptoms, and treatment of cervical cancer.
Types of Cervical Cancer
The doctor determines the prognosis and treatment of cancer based on its type. The main types are:
Squamous Cell Cancer
Squamous cell cancer begins in thin, flat cells lining that is present at the outer part of the Cervix. This lining projects into the vagina. It is the most common type of cervical cancer.
Adenocarcinoma starts in the column-shaped glandular cells that are lining the cervical canal.
In some cases, both the types of cells can be the reason for cervical cancer. There is a rare chance of cancer occurring in other cell types in the cervix.
Symptoms of Cervical Cancer
There could be no signs or symptoms visible at the early stage of cervical cancer. Some of the symptoms that are noticeable at an advanced stage are:
- Vaginal bleeding after intercourse
- Bloody or watery vaginal discharge that has a foul odor
- Abnormal bleeding between menstrual period, after douching, after menopause and after pelvic examination
- Pain during urination
- Increased urinary frequency
Cervical Cancer Treatment
The Cervical Cancer Treatmentdepends on factors such as the stage of cancer, age of the patient, etc. The preferred treatment methods are:
The doctor might recommend surgery to remove cancer if it’s in an early stage. The uterus is removed in most of the cases, but doctors might perform cone biopsy and trachelectomy to remove small tumors to preserve the fertility of the woman.
External beam radiation therapy and brachytherapy are other common treatment options for cervical cancer. In external beam therapy, the radiation therapy is administered from outside source of radiation. In brachytherapy, radioactive sources are inserted near the tumor for a specific time period.
A doctor might recommend chemotherapy along with radiation therapy for certain stages of cancer. The chemotherapy might also be given before or after radiation therapy. 5-fluorouracil and cisplatin are the commonly used drugs for chemotherapy.
The therapy involves the intake of drugs that are specifically developed to interfere with cellular processes that are promoting the growth of cancer cells in the body. The therapy is effective in the treatment of cervical cancer that is at an advanced stage.
Human Papillomaviruses (HPVs) are known to cause cervical cancer. The only way to reduce the risk of developing cervical cancer is by undergoing a screening test and receiving the vaccination that protects against HPV infection.