Send Us your Enquiry  

Cervical Cancer Treatment And Preventive Measures

One of the most common types of cancer among women worldwide, Cervical Cancer is found to occur when abnormal cells on cervix start growing out of control. Cervical cancer can be successfully treated in case it is found in early stages, which is usually through Pap smear tests. Screening for cervical cancer is routine in many countries including the United States. Most cervical cancer cases are caused by human papillomavirus which is commonly called HPV. This can be transmitted through sexual contact with another affected person. Moreover, there are many types of HPV but not all cause cervical cancer. While some can cause genital warts others may lead to cervical cancer. This is exactly why women are recommended to undergo regular Pap smear tests. Pap tests can effectively identify changes in cervical cells before they start turning into cancer.

Cervical Cancer

What is Cervical Cancer?

Cervical cancer basically means that cells within cervix are growing abnormally & multiplying out of control. These cancerous cells may also spread to other parts of the body as well. Cervix is the lower part of uterus which opens into vagina.

Causes of Cervical Cancer

Usually caused by severe abnormal changes in cells of cervix, most precancerous or cancerous cell changes in cervical cancer patients occur within the cervix at the transformation zone. This is generally because cells in this region normally undergo constant change. Some cervical cells can therefore become abnormal in women infected with high-risk type HPV during this natural process of change. Other factors like smoking cigarettes or having more than one sexual partner may also play an important role in causing cervical cancer.

Signs & Symptoms of Cervical Cancer

cervical-cancer-symptoms

Abnormal cell changes in cervix rarely cause any symptoms. Symptoms are visible only when changes in cervical cells progress to cancer. Cervical cancer symptoms generally include the following.

  • Vaginal discharge which is not normal.
  • Pain during sexual intercourse.
  • Vaginal bleeding which is not normal like following sexual intercourse, between menstrual periods or after menopause.
  • Unexplained significant changes in menstruation cycle.

Advanced Symptoms of Cervical Cancer

  • Anemia due to abnormal vaginal bleeding.
  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • Ongoing leg, pelvic or back pain.
  • Urinary problems due to blockage of ureter or kidneys.
  • Leakage of stool or urine into vagina which happens when abnormal fistula opening develops between vagina & rectum or vagina & bladder.

Diagnosing Cervical Cancer

Pap smear test is the routine screening test which is used for early detection of abnormal cell changes occurring in cervix for cervical cancer. Regular routine screening is the most important tool for finding & treating abnormal cell changes before they can progress to cervical cancer. Recommended schedule for Pap tests is based on age & factors which increase risk. In case cervical cancer is suspected, doctors would ask patient’s medical history & conduct a physical examination including Pap test & pelvic exam.

Diagnostic Tests for Cervical Cancer

  • Cervical Biopsy & ColposcopyThis test is designed to locate whether & where cancer cells are situated on the surface of cervix.
  • Curretage or Endocervical BiopsyThis test is meant to find out if cancer cells are within the cervical canal.
  • Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP) or Cone BiopsyThis test is at times recommended so as to remove some cervical tissue for observation & examination under microscope.

Stage & Treatment Tests for Cervical Cancer

  • Chest X-RayThis is to check the lungs.
  • CT ScanThis utilizes X-rays to see inside the body.
  • UltrasoundUses sound waves to check organs & internal tissue.
  • MRIMagnetic Resonance Imaging uses magnets to look inside the body.
  • PET ScanIs required to check for cancer which has metastasized or spread to other regions of the body.
  • BiopsyUsually done with a fine-needle aspiration.

Cervical Cancer Treatment Options

Choice of treatment & prognosis or long-term outcome of cervical cancer usually depends upon the stage & type of cancer. Quality of life, overall health, age & desire to have children will also be considered while deciding on the kind of treatment.

Types of Cervical Cancer Treatment

cervical-cancer-treatments

Choices of treatment for cervical cancer may either be a single therapy or combination of therapies mentioned below.

  • SurgeryIdeal for removing cancer, type of surgery which is to be employed depends upon the extent & location of cervical cancer & whether the patient wants to have children in future.
  • ChemotherapyIt uses medicine to kill cancerous cells. Chemotherapy can be very useful in treating advanced stages of cervical cancer.
  • Radiation TherapyUses implants in the vaginal cavity or high-dose X-rays to kill cancerous cells. Often combined with surgery, radiation therapy is useful in certain stages of cervical cancer.
  • ChemoradiationThis is basically a combination of Chemotherapy & Radiation Therapy. It is commonly used to treat both early & late stages of cervical cancer.

Cervical Cancer Surgical Options

Surgery to remove cancer invariably depends upon extent & location of cervical cancer & the patient’s desire to have babies in future. Single or combination of treatments may be given before or after surgery so as to destroy cancerous cells which remain or to control or shrink tumors in cervical cancer cases.

Types of Cervical Cancer Surgery

Surgery in very early stages of cervical cancer can help preserve patient’s ability to have children. Surgeries for most stages of cervical cancer are unable to preserve patient’s ability to have children in future. Some common types of cervical cancer surgeries include the following.

  • Conization or Cone Biopsy or Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure or LEEPThis is meant to remove a wedge of cervical tissue containing cancer.
  • Radical TrachelectomyMeant to remove cervix part of vagina & pelvic lymph nodes through lymph node dissection, while the uterus is left in place.
  • HysterectomyThis surgical procedure effectively removes cervix & uterus. Fallopian tubes & ovaries may also be removed so as to reduce chances of recurrence during this surgical procedure.
  • Radical HysterectomySurgery to remove cervix, uterus, parts of vagina & tissues around these organs. Fallopian tubes, ovaries & nearby lymph nodes may also be removed during radical hysterectomy procedure.
  • Modified Radical HysterectomyThis is a surgical procedure designed to remove cervix, uterus, upper part of vagina & tissue located around these organs. Fewer organs & lesser tissue are removed in modified radical hysterectomy that traditional radical hysterectomy.
  • Bilateral Salpingo-OophorectomyThis surgical procedure removes both fallopian tubes & both ovaries.
  • Pelvic ExenterationIt is one of the most serious pelvic surgeries done when cancer has spread throughout the pelvis & lower belly. Cervix, uterus, ovaries, vagina, bladder, lower colon & rectum are removed in pelvic exenteration. Artificial openings are also made in this procedure for urine & stool to pass into a collection bag. It is also possible to create artificial vagina during the pelvic exenteration procedure.

Cervical Cancer Risk Factors

Following is a list of risk factors which increase chances of a woman developing cervical cancer. Having one or more of these will make them most likely candidates; however, it does not mean that they will definitely acquire cervical cancer. Moreover, many women who get cervical cancer do not have any of these following risk factors.

  • Ongoing infection with High-Risk Type Human Papillomavirus (HPV)A sexually transmitted disease, HPV is the most common cause of developing cervical cancer.
  • High-Risk Sexual BehaviorThis includes having more than one sexual partners or having a sex partner who in turn is having more than one sex partners. Safe sex can always reduce risk of developing cervical cancer.
  • Impaired Immune SystemConditions like HIV can make women more likely to get infected by HPV which can cause cervical cancer.
  • Cigarette Smoking WomenEven breathing secondhand smoke amounts to increased risk of developing cervical cancer.

Dealing with Side Effects of Cervical Cancer Surgery

Side effects resulting from LEEP or conization procedure include mild cramping in the first few hours, soreness for many days & vaginal discharge for about 7 days following the procedure. Since hysterectomy is a major surgery performed under general anesthesia, patients undergoing traditional procedure will have to stay for a few days at the hospital unless they opt for laparoscopic hysterectomy procedure. Moreover, patients should also get up & move around as soon as possible following hysterectomy & which will help prevent problems like pneumonia, blood clots & gas pains after surgery.

Other Side Effects of Hysterectomy

  • Discomfort & pain for few days which can be effectively treated with medications prescribed by surgeons.
  • Short-term effects include having trouble emptying bladder or sick feeling in stomach. However, these problems usually go away within few hours of time.
  • Chances of women going into early menopause in case they have not yet started. In absence of menopause, cervical cancer patients may have hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness or various other menopausal symptoms. Patients can talk to doctors about hormone therapy & other treatment options before taking up surgery.
  • Some women may also experience changes in sexual response after undergoing hysterectomy. Women should talk to the concerned doctors in case they notice any problems with sexual intercourse following hysterectomy.

Coping During Cervical Cancer Treatment

Women generally feel scared or angry when they find out for the first time that they have cervical cancer. Some women may also feel calm but it is normal to have wide spectrum of feelings which may also often quickly change. Many cervical cancer patients find that talking about their feelings with family & friends immensely help. It would be sensible to talk to the doctor in case emotional reactions to cancer are coming in the way of making important decisions about health. Feelings regarding body image & sexual health may also change after treatment for cervical cancer. Managing such issues may often involve talking openly with partner about feelings & discussing concerns with doctors. Many doctors are also capable of referring patients to such organizations which can offer additional information & support.

Cervical Cancer Treatment Aftercare

It is very important that women receive follow-up care after cervical cancer treatment. Oncologists or gynecologic oncologists may schedule regular check-ups which can include the following.

  • Pap smear tests & pelvic exams every 3 – 6 months for the first 2 years following cervical cancer treatment.
  • Pap smear tests & pelvic exams every 6 months after two years for another 3 – 5 years following cervical cancer treatment.
  • Pap smear tests & pelvic exams every year after 5 years following cervical cancer treatment.
  • Pelvic & abdominal computed tomography (CT) scan may also be recommended by oncologists as follow-up tests. This is required to see in cancer has spread to other parts or organs in the pelvis or belly region.

Cervical Cancer Preventive Measures

cervical-cancer-prevention

Dysplasia or early cervical cell changes can be effectively treated so as to reduce risk of cervical cancer. Women can reduce risk of abnormal cell changes by undertaking the following measures.

  • Regular Pap smear Test ScreeningPap test screening schedule is generally based on age & factors increasing risk of cervical cancer. Women should talk to doctors about how often they would need to undergo this test.
  • Quit SmokingWomen smoking or breathing secondhand smoke have higher risk of developing cervical cell changes which can eventually lead to cervical cancer. Therefore, quitting smoking will invariably decrease risk.
  • Get HPV VaccineWomen aged 9 – 26 years & men aged 21 or younger can get vaccinated for HPV. Gardasil & Cervarix are two vaccines which protect against two types of human papillomavirus causing cervical cancer. While Gardasil is recommended for men, females can get any of these two vaccines.
  • Reduce Risk of Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI)Preventing STI including HPV is easier & sensible than treating an infection which has occurred. Since HPV infection does not cause any symptoms, couple may not know when they are infected.

Cervical Cancer Recurrence

Cervical cancer can often recur or return after treatment. Chances of returning will depend upon the initial cancer which was treated. Cancer which has been diagnosed early is less likely to come back than cancer which was diagnosed in later stages. Long-term prognosis for recurrent cervical cancer greatly depends upon the extent of spread when recurrence was diagnosed. Treatment options include chemotherapy, chemoradiation or surgery which can effectively relieve symptoms. Doctors may also talk to women about being clinical trials for cervical cancer which are being conducted for studying therapies targeting cancer cells.

Cervical Cancer Palliative Care

This is a kind of care for people who are having serious illness. Palliative care is different from usual care given to cure illness. Goal of palliative care is to improve quality of life in the body & also in mind & spirit. Mostly given alongside treatment, palliative care providers will also work so as to help control pain & side effects as well. They can also help patients decide on the kind of treatment they would like to have & even help the loved ones understand how to support the cervical cancer patient. Time comes when treatment to cure cancer no longer seems to be a sensible choice, especially for women having advanced cervical cancer. This can be due to several reasons like time, side effects & cost of treatment which does not promise any relief or cure, although one can still get treatment for comfort during the rest of time. This is the time when patient & the doctor can together decide for end-of-life hospice care.

Affordable Cervical Cancer Treatment in India

India is one of the best places in the world to undergo a variety of affordable oncology solutions & gynecologic treatments including cervical cancer surgical procedures. Top surgeons in India are some of the best & can effectively treat cancer at all stages. IndianMedTrip, which is one of the fastest growing healthcare tourism companies in South Asia, is associated with reputed oncology & gynecologic surgeons & best accredited hospitals providing advanced medical treatments for international patients. Services offered by IndianMedTrip start with the first phone conversation & go on to assist in obtaining medical visas, a warm reception at the airport, travel arrangement & comfortable accommodation, scheduled appointment & treatment procedures without any waiting period, follow-up checks, recuperative vacations & successful farewell.

Interested in Our Services?

ENQUIRE NOW

Save

Save

Save

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on StumbleUpon