Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix at the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina.
This cancer can affect the deeper tissues of the cervix and may spread to other parts of the body (metastasize), often the lungs, liver, bladder, vagina, and rectum.
Most cases of cervical cancer are caused by infection with human papillomavirus (HPV), which is preventable with a vaccine.
Stages of cervical cancer
After being diagnosed, the doctor will assign the patient’s cancer a stage. The stage tells whether cancer has spread, and if so, how far it’s spread. Staging patients with cancer can help doctors find the right treatment for the patient.
Cervical cancer has four stages:
- Stage 1:The cancer is small. It may have spread to the lymph nodes. It hasn’t spread to other parts of the body.
- Stage 2:The cancer is larger. It may have spread outside of the uterus and cervix or to the lymph nodes. It still hasn’t reached other parts of the body.
- Stage 3:The cancer has spread to the lower part of the vagina or to the pelvis. It may be blocking the ureters, the tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder. It hasn’t spread to other parts of the body.
- Stage 4:The cancer may have spread outside of the pelvis to organs like lungs, bones, or liver.
Early-stage cervical cancer generally produces no signs or symptoms.
Signs and symptoms of more-advanced cervical cancer include:
- Vaginal bleeding may occur after intercourse, between periods, or after menopause.
- Watery, bloody vaginal discharge that may be heavy and have a foul odor.
- Pelvic pain may be experienced during intercourse.
Cervical cancer begins when healthy cells in the cervix develop changes (mutations) in their DNA. A cell’s DNA contains the instructions that tell a cell what to do.
Healthy cells grow and multiply at a set rate, eventually dying at a set time. The mutations tell the cells to grow and multiply out of control, and they don’t die. The accumulating abnormal cells form a mass (tumor). Cancer cells invade nearby tissues and can break off from a tumour to spread (metastasize) elsewhere in the body.
It isn’t clear what causes cervical cancer, but it’s certain that HPV plays a role. HPV is very common, and most people with the virus never develop cancer. This means other factors, such as the environment or lifestyle choices, also determine whether someone develops cervical cancer. Read More
Types of cervical cancer
The type of cervical cancer that helps to determine prognosis and treatment. The main types of cervical cancer are:
- Squamous cell carcinoma. This type of cervical cancer begins in the thin, flat cells (squamous cells) lining the outer part of the cervix, which projects into the vagina. Most cervical cancers are squamous cell carcinomas.
- This type of cervical cancer begins in the column-shaped glandular cells that line the cervical canal.
Risk factors for cervical cancer include:
- There are numerous sexual partners.
- Early sexual activity
- Other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV/AIDS, etc.
- Immune deterioration
- Exposure to miscarriage prevention drugs, etc.
Prevention is the best
To reduce the risk of cervical cancer:
- Take the HPV vaccination
- Having routine Pap tests
- Practice safe sex.
- Don’t smoke etc.
Cervical cancer is very treatable if you catch it early. The four main treatments are:
- Radiation treatment
- Chemotherapy treatment
- Targeted therapy
Sometimes these treatments are combined to make them more effective.
Cervical cancer grows slowly, so there’s usually time to find and treat it before it causes serious problems. It kills fewer and fewer women each year.
Women 35 to 44 years old are most likely to get it. More than 15% of new cases are in women over age 65, however, especially those who haven’t been getting regular screenings. Read More