Cervical Cancer - All You Need To Know
Cervix cancer refers to a type of cancer found
in the cervix, the lower part of a woman's uterus, that is connected to the
birth canal (vagina).
Cervix cancer is caused by special types of Human
Papillomavirus (HPV), a pretty common sexually transmitted infection.
Cervix cancer is usually asymptomatic in
its early stages, but as it progresses, it can cause various symptoms such as
abnormal vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain, etc.
The best thing about this cancer is that it
takes about 5 to 10 years to get Frank invasive cancer cervix after HPV viral
infection. This gives ample time for cancer check-ups and screening.
Let's get into everything you need to know about
Symptoms of body problems, related to Cervix
There may not be any symptoms in the early
stages of Cervix Cancer. However, in the later stages of Cervix cancer, some
symptoms can include:
- Abnormal bleeding from birth canal, including
bleeding after menopause, after copulation, and between periods.
- Vaginal discharge that is heavy,
foul-smelling, or tinged with blood
- Pelvic pain or pain during intercourse.
- Pain or difficulty urinating
- Fatigue or weight loss
- Anemia due to heavy bleeding
It's crucial to note that these symptoms can
also be caused by other conditions, and they may not necessarily indicate
cervix cancer alone. However, if you experience any of these symptoms, it's
important to see your doctor for an evaluation.
Regular cervix cancer screening, such as PAP as
well as HPV tests (liquid PAP technique), can detect the precancerous changes
of cervical cancer, so it is recommended to get screened regularly privately or
as per COMMUNITY SCREENING NATIONAL GUIDELINES.
Risk Factors of CERVIX Cancer
There are various risk factors that are involved
in Cervix Cancer, including-
Having one or more of the above-mentioned risk
factors does not mean that a woman will definitely develop cervical cancer.
Regular cervical cancer screenings can help
detect the disease early when it is most treatable.
Treatment for Cervix Cancer
The treatment approach for Cervix cancer depends
on several factors, including the stage of cancer and the woman's overall
health. Common treatments for cervix cancer include:
Surgery: Surgery is often used to remove
early-stage cervical cancers. The most common surgical procedures for Cervix
cancer are a Simple Hysterectomy, which removes the uterus and cervix, or a
Radical Hysterectomy, which removes the uterus, cervix, and nearby lymph nodes.
Radiation Therapy: This type of treatment
requires X-rays with high energy to kill cancer cells. The doctor can use it
alone or in combination with chemotherapy.
Anti-cancer drugs Chemotherapy requires
drugs to kill cancer cells. It is often used in combination with radiation
therapy for advanced cervical cancer or as a palliative treatment to relieve
symptoms & improve quality of life.
Targeted drug therapy: It is a newer form of
treatment that uses drugs that target specific proteins or genes that help
Immunotherapy: This type of therapy uses
drugs that help the body's own immune system fight cancer.
The specific treatment plan will be tailored to
the individual woman and her needs and will take into account the stage and
grade of cancer, as well as the woman's overall health and personal
Prevention of Cervix Cancer
There are many ways to reduce the risk of cervix
cancer or to detect it early:
- HPV Vaccination can prevent the most common
types of HPV infections that cause cervical cancer.
Three doses of anti-viral HPV Vaccination are
given within 6 months; as a subcutaneous injection in arms. It is recommended
for girls aged 11 or 12 and women up to age 26 varying country to country.
The community guidelines may be different then individual office private
- Regular Cervical Cancer Screenings such as
Pap tests and HPV tests (Liquid PAP) can help detect precancerous signs in the
cervix before they become cancerous. It's recommended that women begin cervix
cancer screenings at age 21 and continue at regular intervals according to the
guidelines set by their healthcare provider which varies country to country.
Some poor resource countries do once in a lifetime. The screening is usually
not done after 72 years of age worldwide.
- Condoms: Consistently using condoms during
sexual activity can help reduce the risk of contracting HPV infection.
- Quitting smoking can lower the risk of cervical
cancer and many other types of cancer.
- Maintaining a Healthy Weight: Being overweight
or obese has been linked to an increased risk of cervix cancer.
It's important to note that even if a woman is
linked to no risk factors, cervical cancer can still develop; that's why
regular Cervix cancer screenings are important.
However, if not detected early, Cervix cancer
can reach the advanced stages within three months of becoming invasive cancer
making it difficult to treat and, quickly fatal by tripping ureters of both
parametrium and causing progressive Kidney failure.
Thus in summary cancer cervix is a highly
preventable cancer. It is important to follow the guidelines for cervix cancer
screenings and to take preventive measures such as HPV vaccination, condom use,
limiting sexual partners, not smoking, eating a healthy diet, and maintaining a
Dr Puneet Gupta
Director Oncology & Director DNB M.O.
Metro Hospital & Cancer