Cervical cancer - The rising threat in women
- By Team TDO
What is Cervical Cancer ?
Development and spread of abnormal cancer cells in neck of the womb and cervix is called cervical cancer. Cervix is the lower part of uterus. Cervical cancer is very common in India.
The symptoms include:
- Abnormal vaginal discharge.
- Bleeding in between the menstrual periods.
- Postmenopausal bleeding.
- Painful sex called dyspareunia or bleeding during sex.
HPV infection spreads by sexual contact. It can be lowered by condoms but prevention isn't 100%.
Some other risk factors: Smoking, people with compromised immunity, prolonged use of contraceptive pills, multiple deliveries or even childbirth.
PAP smear is the boon test to detect cervical cancer. It detects abnormality in cells before they become cancerous. Women above 30 should have a PAP smear done every 3 years.
If PAP test is abnormal, a repeat PAP test is needed. Colposcopy, an examination of cervix with scope to detect changes in cells of cervix and biopsy might be needed. Biopsy is diagnostic and confirmatory. Removal or destruction of abnormal cells if they are precancerous prevents them from turning into cancer.
Stages of cervical cancer:
- Stage 0: Cancer cells are found only on cervical surface.
- Stage I: Cancer spreads beyond the cervix.
- Stage II: Cancer spreads to the upper part of vagina.
- Stage III: Tumour or cancer in lower part of vagina causing other symptoms like urine retention.
- Stage IV: Cancer cells spread to bladder, rectum or other parts of the body.
Treatment options include surgery to remove cancer tissue with removal of uterus, cervix, ovaries and fallopian tubes if needed, along with surrounding tissue. This is followed by radiation and chemotherapy.
News of hope: A fertility-sparing procedure called trachelectomy or cervicetomy has increased the chances of getting pregnant after surgery, as the body of uterus in preserved removing only the uterine cervix. This can be done in a selected young women diagnosed in the early stages of cancer.