Cervical Cancer

What is cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer is cancer that starts in the cervix, in the lower part of the uterus (womb), leading to the upper part of the vagina. Cervical cancers start in the cells on the surface of the cervix. Two types of cells can be distinguished on the surface of the cervix, columnar and squamous. Generally speaking, most cervical cancers arise from squamous cells.

Worldwide, it is the third most common type of cancer in women and its main cause is the human papillomavirus (HPV),

Prognosis of the disease

The prognosis of the disease will depend on the individual case of each person. It should be taken into account:

  • The type of cervical cancer.
  • How far the cancer has spread.
  • The general health and age of the patient.
  • Whether the cancer has recurred after treatment.

With proper monitoring and treatment, precancerous conditions can be completely cured. If the cancer has spread within the walls of the cervix but not outside the cervical area, most women have a five-year survival rate. This survival rate decreases as the cancer spreads outside the walls of the cervix to other areas.

Cervical cancer starts in the lower part of the uterus.

Symptoms of cervical cancer

Generally speaking, most of the time early on, cervical cancer has no symptoms. Later on, some of the symptoms that may occur are:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding after intercourse or after menopause.
  • Menstrual periods that are heavier and last longer than normal.
  • Vaginal discharge that does not stop. It may be pale, pink, bloody or foul smelling.
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Cervical cancer, when in an advanced stage, generates greater problems. Some of the symptoms that are detected at this stage are:

  • Back pain.
  • Pelvic pain.
  • Fatigue.
  • Pain in the legs.
  • Swelling in one leg.
  • bone pain or fractures
  • leakage or leakage of urine or stool from the vagina.
  • weight loss

Medical tests for cervical cancer

Cervical cancer cannot be detected by a simple physical examination. Various tests and examinations are necessary to detect it:

  • Pap smear: despite not being a final test, it is useful to detect cancer or precancer.
  • DNA test to detect HPV: it can be used as an initial test or as a complementary test to the Pap smear.
  • Colposcopy: fragments of tissue are surgically removed (biopsy) and analyzed. It is performed in case abnormal changes are found.

Once cervical cancer is diagnosed, the specialist will perform further tests to determine the extent. These may include:

  • Chest X-ray
  • Pelvic CT scan
  • Pelvic MRI
  • Intravenous pyelography
  • Cystoscopy

What are the causes of cervical cancer?

The vast majority of cervical cancers are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Other causes can also play a role in the development of this cancer:

  • Not getting vaccinated against HPV.
  • Having sex at an early age.
  • Having multiple sexual partners.
  • A large number of childbirths.

Can it be prevented?

Cervical cancer can be prevented by following these tips:

  • Being vaccinated against HPV: it prevents most types of HPV infections, which cause cervical cancer.
  • Practice safe sex: the use of condoms reduces the risk of contracting HPV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • Have Pap smears as often as recommended by the specialist to detect early changes. Also the HPV test.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Avoid having multiple partners and those who practice risky sexual activities.
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Treatments for cervical cancer

The treatment of cervical cancer will depend on each case. The specialist should assess

  • The stage of the cancer.
  • The shape and size of the tumor.
  • The general health and age of the patient.
  • The desire to have children in the future.

In the case of early cervical cancer can be treated with the removal or destruction of cancerous or precancerous tissues. There are several surgical methods that allow treatment without removing the uterus or damaging the cervix, so that the woman can still have children in the future.

The following types of surgery are available to treat early cervical cancer:

  • Electrosurgical excision procedure.
  • Cryotherapy: to freeze the abnormal cells.
  • Laser therapy.

In the case of treating more advanced cervical cancer there are the following options:

  • Radical hysterectomy: the uterus and surrounding tissues are removed.
  • Pelvic evisceration: the pelvic organs are removed.

What specialist treats it?

Cervical cancer should be treated by a specialist in Gynecology and Obstetrics.