Cervical Cancer: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
Cervical cancer is in second place after endometrial cancer among cancer of the genital organs in women. But in the group from 15 years and up to 54 years dominates in the structure of genital cancer in women.
The disease never develops in unchanged epithelium: pretumor changes in the epithelium always precede cervical cancer. Such changes are called dysplasia or cervical intraepithelial neoplasia.
As modern studies have shown, 90% of cervical cancer cases are caused by the common HPV virus – human papillomavirus, which can cause cervical epithelium dysplasia.
In the absence of timely treatment, such a precancerous condition eventually goes into glandular cancer or squamous cell cancer.
It is important to know that, regardless of the stage of the disease, cervical cancer is successfully treated.
cervical cancer diagnosis
Most patients do not show any complaints. The disease is detected at random by cytological examination.
An important role is played by colposcopy, which allows the doctor to examine in detail the cervix and identify 90% of cases of dysplasia.
The purpose of colposcopy is to examine the epithelium of the vaginal part of the cervix, vagina, and vulva under magnification, identify areas of dysplasia and perform targeted biopsy of the modified areas to confirm the diagnosis. That is why it is so important to visit a gynecologist every year.
Regardless of the results of cytological studies in cases of suspected cervical cancer, biopsy of all modified areas of the cervix is performed.
Scraping the cervical canal is indicated if cytological examination revealed a change in the squamous epithelium of a high degree of malignancy (and colposcopy revealed no pathology), as well as in a number of other cases.
One of the research methods is spiral computed tomography with double contrast.
Also, the diagnosis uses radiography of the lungs and osteoscintigraphy.
In some cases, excretory urography, colonoscopy, PET may be indicated.
PET-CT is used before planning radiotherapy to identify the affected lymph nodes, as well as if a relapse is suspected.
Cervical Cancer Stages
The purpose of screening and other diagnostic measures is not only to detect cervical cancer but also to determine the extent of its spread in the body, in other words, to determine the stage of cancer.
Usually, the stages of any cancer are indicated by Roman numerals. Stages of cervical cancer include:
Stage I. Cancer is localized only in the cervix.
Stage II. Cancer at this stage struck the cervix and uterus but did not spread to the wall of the pelvis or lower part of the vagina.
Stage III. Cancer in this stage went beyond the cervix and uterus to the walls of the pelvis or lower part of the vagina.
Stage IV. At this stage, cancer has spread to nearby organs, such as the bladder or rectum, or it has spread to other parts of the body, such as the lungs, liver, or bone marrow.
cervical cancer treatment
Depending on the stage of the disease, there are several therapeutic options, as well as combinations thereof.
In cancer in situ, cervical conization is possible – circular removal of a portion of the cervix.
Surgery – removal of the cervix, uterus (hysterectomy), lymph nodes and, in some cases, appendages. For young patients, LICOD uses organ-sparing surgical treatment: the preservation of the ovaries when the body and cervix are removed (laparoscopic ovarian transposition) – the ovaries are moved to the upper abdomen on their vessels so that they do not die during irradiation.
In addition, prior to the initiation of anticancer therapy, our patients can save the egg cell and ovarian tissue in the cryobank of the Institute of Cellular Therapy.
Every woman of reproductive age who is undergoing oncological treatment at LICOD may become a mother in the future.
With the development of recurrence of the disease in some cases, the pelvic organs may be entered – this is a difficult operation to remove a recurrent tumor and pelvic organs, which is performed laparoscopically in LISSOD.
Chemotherapy may be an independent method of treatment and additional as postoperative therapy.
Compared with postoperative radiation therapy, simultaneous chemotherapy and radiation therapy reduces the incidence of disease progression by 30-50%.
Brachytherapy – a method of local irradiation of the cervix. Most often is part of a course of radical radiation therapy.
Other treatment approaches are to alleviate individual symptoms.
With pain syndrome:
- the use of painkillers;
- nerve plexus blockade;
With obstruction of the ureters:
- ureteral stenting
- staging of nephrostomy.
The whole complex of diagnostic measures and medical procedures is performed in LISSOD, providing the most effective assistance to patients with cervical cancer. The clinic also provides palliative and symptomatic treatment.
cervical cancer symptoms
At an early stage, cervical cancer usually does not show symptoms and is detected during colposcopy and further cytological examination.
Symptoms of cervical cancer are absent in the initial stages. Therefore, it is very important for a woman to regularly visit a gynecologist.
The first symptoms of uterine cancer – the appearance of bleeding and whiter from the vagina.
The primary signs of cervical cancer can be bloody discharge during or after intercourse.
Symptoms of cervical cancer may also appear as watery, rare secretions due to the destruction of the capillaries adjacent to the epithelial layer.
Bloody recurrent discharge appears later. This is due to the destruction of blood capillaries located more deeply.
Discharges become fetid and pussy as the tumor decays.
The appearance of pain suggests compression of the nerve plexus in the sacrum area and the spread of the tumor process to the parametric fiber.
Squeezing of lymphatic vessels leads to lymphostasis (stagnation of lymph in the legs), the impaired outflow of urine and renal failure. In the later stages of the disease, the bladder is affected, leading to dysuric disorders. If the rectum is affected, the act of defecation is disturbed.
The serious complications of the disease include uremia and peritonitis.
Cervical cancer Risk Factors
The probability of infection with the human papillomavirus increases in the case of:
having many sexual contacts both in the present and in the past;
if the girl begins her sexual life at an early age, when there are still immature epithelial cells of the cervix;
Research from the US Cancer Society has shown that condom use reduces the likelihood of infection by about 70%. Incomplete protection is associated with the ability of HPV to be transmitted from any infected part of the body through physical contact.
Additional risk facts are smoking, urogenital protozoal and bacterial infections, asthenic syndrome (caused by unbalanced different diets), HIV infection. Women can significantly reduce the likelihood of developing cervical cancer by avoiding risk factors.
The experience and high qualification of LISOD specialists make it possible to preserve menstrual and generative functions for young women during the treatment of cervical cancer.
cervical cancer prevention
Vaccination. A vaccine for cervical cancer prevention is currently available. In June 2006, a vaccine called Gardasil (Gardasil) was approved in the United States to prevent infection against two types of HPV responsible for the majority of cases of cervical cancer. Studies have shown that the vaccine is able to prevent early cervical cancer and precancerous lesions. Gardasil is the first approved vaccine specifically aimed at preventing any type of cancer.
Safe sex. Condom use also reduces the risk of contracting HPV and other sexually transmitted diseases. The main cause of cervical cancer is the human papillomavirus (65 – 75%), so if a woman practices sex with a condom, then the chance of cervical cancer cutting decreases. In any case, if a woman saw warts on the genitals of her partner, then she should avoid contacting him. To further reduce the risk of cervical cancer, women should limit their number of sexual partners and avoid partners who are involved in groups at high risk of sexual activity.
Pap test. Pre-cancerous changes can detect a Pap smear. This test is recommended periodically to do all women leading an active sexual lifestyle.
Smoking. If you smoke, stop smoking. Smoking is associated with an increased risk of cervical cancer. It should also be noted that cervical cancer is twice as common in women who smoke.