Cervical Cancer - Symptoms, Causes, Stages and Treatment

Cervical cancer develops when cells in a woman's cervix, which connects her uterus to her vagina, alter. This cancer can harm their cervix's deeper tissues and spread to other regions of their body (metastasize), most commonly the lungs, liver, bladder, vagina, and rectum. The majority of occurrences of cervical cancer are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, which is avoidable with a vaccine. Cervical cancer grows slowly, so it is usually detectable and treatable before it causes major complications.



Cervical Cancer Signs and Symptoms

A person may have no symptoms at all in the early stages of cervical cancer. The following are some of the most prevalent signs of cervical cancer:

  • Bleeding between menstrual periods
  • Bleeding following a sexual encounter, pelvic examination
  • Menstrual periods are longer and are heavier than in the past.
  • Bleeding following menopause
  • Vaginal discharge has increased.
  • Pelvic discomfort/consistent lower back pain
  • Cervical cancer causes

    The human papillomavirus, which is transmitted sexually, is responsible for the majority of cervical cancer cases (HPV). The virus that causes genital warts is the same one that causes genital warts. There are over 100 distinct HPV strains. Cervical cancer is caused by only a few varieties. HPV-16 and HPV-18 are the two most frequent kinds that cause cancer.

    What are the 4 Cervical Cancer Stages?

    The most prevalent staging strategy for cervical cancer is a four-stage system.

    Stage 0: Presence of precancerous cells.

    Stage 1: Cancer has spread to the cervix.

    Stage 2:Cancer in this stage affects the cervix and uterus but not the pelvic wall or the lower region of the vagina.

    stage3: At this stage, cancer has spread from the uterus to the pelvic wall or the lower region of the vagina.

    Stage 4: Cancer has spread to other organs, such as the bladder or the rectum, or to other parts of the body, such as the lungs, liver, or bones.

    Screening Test for Cervical Cancer

    Cervical cancer can typically be avoided by having regular screenings to detect and treat any precancers. Cervical cancer screening tests and procedures include the following:

    Pap smear test. The most common test for early alterations in cells that can lead to cervical cancer is the Pap smear test. It entails qualified healthcare professionals/Gynaecologists collecting a sample of cells from the cervix to check for abnormal cells in the cervix.

    VIA is a screening test that can be performed with only a few tools and the naked eye. A dilution of white vinegar is applied to the cervix during VIA. The doctor then examines for any abnormalities on the cervix, which turns white when exposed to vinegar.

    HPV DNA test: This test is performed on a sample of cervix cells taken from a woman. This sample is tested for the HPV strains most typically associated with cervical cancer. A woman can take her own sample for testing using an HPV self sample collection device.

    Cervical cancer treatment

    Surgery is frequently used to remove cancer, particularly in early-stage malignancies. In younger women with small tumors, a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) may be performed, although other procedures that retain the capacity to bear a pregnancy may be undertaken. For tiny tumors, both a cone biopsy (removal of the inside of the cervix, where most tumors develop) and a trachelectomy (removal of the upper vagina and cervix) are procedures that can be used to protect fertility. With more advanced tumors, a treatment termed pelvic exenteration removes the uterus, surrounding lymph nodes, and portions of other organs surrounding the malignancy, depending on where it is located.

    Surgery for cervical cancer
  • Cervical cancer is treated using a variety of surgical techniques. Which one your doctor advises is determined by the extent of cancer's spread.
  • Cryosurgery uses a probe implanted in the cervix to freeze cancer cells.
  • A laser beam is used in laser surgery to burn away aberrant cells.
  • Conization is the surgical removal of a cone-shaped piece of the cervix with a surgical knife, laser, or electrically heated thin wire.
  • The entire uterus and cervix are removed during a hysterectomy. A radical hysterectomy is performed when the top of the vagina is also removed.
  • Trachelectomy removes the cervix and the top of the vagina, but leaves the uterus in place, allowing a woman to have children later on.
  • Radiation therapy

    Another popular treatment is radiation therapy. Cervical cancer has been treated with both external beam radiation treatment (radiation therapy administered from an outside source of radiation) and brachytherapy (radiation therapy that involves the insertion of radioactive sources near the tumor for a set amount of time). These two types of therapy have also been used in conjunction with one another. If radiation therapy is administered as the principal treatment for the malignancy, it is commonly paired with chemotherapy. Side effects of radiation therapy include exhaustion, diarrhea, skin changes, nausea, vomiting, irritation of the bladder, vaginal discomfort and discharge, and possibly menstruation alterations or early menopause if the ovaries are exposed to radiation.

    Chemotherapy

    Chemotherapy may be advised combined with radiation therapy (chemoradiation) for specific stages of cervical cancer. It may also be given before or after radiation treatment. Chemotherapy medications are often used for cervical cancer. Chemotherapy may also be the treatment of choice for cervical cancer that has come back after treatment. Side effects of chemotherapy include nausea, exhaustion, vomiting, hair loss, and mouth sores.

    Targeted therapy

    Targeted therapy refers to medications that have been deliberately produced, or targeted, to stop cellular processes that encourage the proliferation of cancer cells. Target treatment reduces the capacity of tumors to generate new blood vessels, which is necessary for tumor growth. This form of tailored therapy is sometimes utilized for advanced cervical cancers.