Cervical cancer is a disease characterized by the fact that normal cells are transformed into malignant cells (cancer) in cervical tissue. The cervix is the lower and the narrowest portion of the uterus (pear-form organ, in which the fetus grows). The cervix connects the uterus and vagina. Cervical cancer usually develops gradually. Before cancer occurs, cervical cells transform in a process called dysplasia and then become abnormal cells of the cervical tissue. Later, cancer cells multiply and spread deeper into the cervix and the nearby areas.
HPV infection is the most common cause of cervical cancer, this is why a periodical HPV test is required if you are likely to develop it. There are no signs that announce cancer, but it can be diagnosed early through annual tests. While HPV infection (Humar papilloma virus - human papilloma virus) is the most important risk factor for cervical cancer, not all women with HPV infection develop cervical cancer.
Cancer in early stages may not have symptoms or signs. Women should be tested once a year, including a Pap test to check if there are any changes in the cervix cells.
Other risk factors of cervical cancer:
Possible signs of cervical cancer include vaginal bleeding and pelvic pain. These and other symptoms may be caused by cervical cancer. Nevertheless, other diseases can give the same symptoms. See your oncologist if the following symptoms occur:
Possible physical injuries caused by cervical cancer are:
-loss of fallopian tubes
-loss of vagina
-loss of the uterus
-loss of the lower colon, rectum and bladder
-loss of cervix
-loss of a portion of the vagina
As you can see the range of physical effects of cervical cancer is wide and it can affect the patients’ lives on many levels. This illness can lead to losing relationships as impossibility of conceiving can be caused. Tiredness is also an effect of this disease, which can significantly affect the patients’ ability to perform work related activities, and they can thus lose their jobs.
Some of the associated disorders are:
-intestinal tract cancer
As with other disorders, it is essential to know what the causes of cervical cancer are in order to be able to prevent its occurrence:
The cervical cancer treatment is based on the following cancer stages:
Stage zero (carcinoma in situ)
Tumor cells are found only in the first layer of cells of the cervix and have not invaded deeper layers.
This stage is limited to the cervix. Stage I is divided into stages IA and IB, based on the amount of tumor tissue.
- Stage IA - only a very small tumor tissue is seen under the microscope. The cancer does not invade deep tissue more than 5 mm and stretching more than 7 mm.
- Stage IB: cancer is located, can be seen only under a microscope and is deeper than 5 mm and 7 mm in size; it can also be seen without a microscope and may be greater than 4 cm.
It is spread beyond the cervix, but not into the pelvic wall. Stage II is divided into stages IIA and IIB.
-Stage IIA: Cancer has spread beyond the cervix to the upper two-thirds of the vagina, but not in tissues around the uterus.
-Stage IIB: Cancer has spread beyond the cervix to the upper two-thirds of the vagina and in the tissues around the uterus.
The cancer invaded the lower third of the vagina and may invade the pelvic wall and nearby lymph nodes. Stage III includes stage IIIA and IIIB, based on prevalence of cancer.
- Stage IIIA: The cancer has invaded the lower third of the vagina, but not the pelvic wall.
- Stage IIIB: cancer cells have spread to the pelvic wall and / or the cancer formation has increased, so that it blocks the ureters (the tubes that connect the kidneys and bladder). These blockages can lead to increased kidney size or kidney failure. Cancer cells can invade lymph nodes in the pelvis.
The cancer invades the bladder, the rectum or other body parts. Stage IV is divided into stages IVA and IVB, depending on the location of tumor cells.
- Stage IVA: Cancer has spread to the bladder or rectal wall or lymph nodes in the pelvis.
- Stage IVB: Cancer has spread beyond the pelvis and pelvic lymph nodes to other parts of the body like stomach, liver, intestinal tract or lungs.
Surgery (surgical removal of the cancer) is often curative. The surgical procedures are:
Radiotherapy is a method that uses high energy x-rays or other radiation to kill tumor cells. There are two types of radiotherapy. External radiation therapy uses a machine to send radiation to cancer. Internal radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance contained in needles, irradiated seeds, wires, or catheters that are placed directly into or near the cancer. The method of irradiation depends on the type and stage of cervical cancer treatment.
Cancer chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses pharmaceutical substances to stop the growth of cancer cells by lysis or stop their division. When chemotherapy is done orally or by injection into a vein or muscle, substances enter the bloodstream and reach malignant cells in the body (systemic chemotherapy). The administration of chemotherapy depends on the type and stage of cancer to treat.
Options of cervical cancer treatment according to the stage of the disease
Stage 0 (carcinoma in situ): laser surgery, conization, cryosurgery, total hysterectomy for women who can not or no longer want children, internal radiation therapy for women who can not undergo surgery.
Stage IA: Total hysterectomy with or without bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, conization, radical hysterectomy and removal of lymph nodes, internal radiotherapy. Radical hysterectomy and removal of lymph nodes followed by radiotherapy and cancer chemotherapy,
Stage IB: combination of internal and external radiotherapy, radiotherapy and cancer chemotherapy.
Stage IIA: Internal radiotherapy combined with external radiotherapy, radical hysterectomy and resection of lymph nodes, radical hysterectomy and lymph nodes resection followed by radiotherapy and cancer chemotherapy, radiotherapy and cancer chemotherapy.
Stage IIB: Cervical cancer treatment in stage IIB may include external and internal radiotherapy, combined with cancer chemotherapy.
Stage III: It may include external and internal radiotherapy, combined with cancer chemotherapy.
Stage IVA: It may include external and internal radiotherapy, combined with cancer chemotherapy.
Stage IVB: Radiotherapy as palliative treatment to relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life, and cancer chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy side effects may include nausea, vomiting or pain, hair loss, discomfort.
The cervical cancer mortality rate is among the second highest mortality rates caused by cancers.
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