The human body consists of 78 organs in total, more than 7 of which are present in the female reproductive system. The lower part of the womb is called a cervix, settled down in the bottom of the abdomen and placed right beside the bladder. Cervical cancer is developed in the cervix, located in the lower part of the uterus which is attached to the upper end of the vagina; joining the upper part, where a fetus grows, to the birth canal. Cervix catches cancer when the cells of the body commence to grow out of control. It consists of two parts and is lined with two different types of cells:
- The Endocervix is the starting point of the cervix that extends upto the uterus. It is enveloped with glandular cells.
- The Exocervix (or Ectocervix) is the outermost part of the cervix that is visible to the doctor during a speculum exam. It is covered in squamous cells.
These two cell types meet in the Transformation Zone inside the Cervix. Transformation zone’s location changes when you give birth or grow old.
This cancer matures gradually, may fan out in other body parts; lungs, liver, bladder, vagina and rectum. Generally, women of 35 to 45 years are under greater threat. Moreover, 20% of cervical cancers are diagnosed in women over the age of 65 years.
- Suffering while sexual intercourse.
- Unexpected vaginal bleeding between periods, after sexual intercourse, after menopause or after pelvic exam.
- Unusual vaginal white discharge.
- Foul smell in vagina
- Lower back pain or lower abdominal pain.
After it has extended, it can cause:
- Pelvic pain
- Trouble peeing
- Swollen legs
- Kidney failure
- Bone pain
- Weight loss and lack of appetite
- Hold up sexual intercourse till teens or older age.
- Use precautions while having sexual intercourse.
- Decreasing the number of sex partners.
- Avoid having sex with people who are already infected with genital warts.
- Avoid sexual relationships with people who had too many partners.
- Quit smoking.
Cervical Cancer Types
There are various types of cervical cancer:
- Squamous cell carcinoma. This develops in the lining of one’s cervix. It’s common in upto 90% of the cases. Squamous cell starts in the area where exocervix meets the endocervix. This is the most common type of cervical cancer diagnosed.
- Adenocarcinoma. This develops in the cells that produce mucus mostly from glandular cells.
- Mixed carcinoma. This type of cervical cancer has the symptoms of both, i.e, Squamous Cell Carcinoma as well as Adenocarcinoma. These are called adenosquamous carcinomas or mixed carcinomas.
PRE- CANCER OF THE CERVIX
Transformation zones do not just change the place all of sudden. However, the normal cells of the cervix slowly grow abnormal shifts that are known as Pre- Cancer. Doctors describe these pre-cancerous changes with several terms, including cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN), squamous intraepithelial lesion (SIL), and dysplasia. No matter, cervical cancer begins from cells with pre-cancerous changes, but only few women with pre-cancerous changes develop cancer. Half of the women’s pre-cancerous cells leave without any medication.
Doctors recommend cervical cancer screening to detect pre-cancer or cancer at the very first stage so that it can be cured easily. Pap test and HPV test are the main tests usually done to detect cancer.
Pap Test is helpful in diagnosing pre-cancerous changes and so it can be treated to block cancer. Furthermore, this test uses another name which is Pap smear. In the Pap test some samples are collected from the cervix. This test takes place at the same time as a bimanual pelvic exam.
HPV Test finds the infection by high-risk types of HPV which can be converted into pre-cancer or cancer. HPV infection is not curable but a vaccine can be helpful in preventing it. This test is performed on a sample of cells taken from the woman’s cervix. This test can also be done on a sample removed from a woman’s vagina.
Visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA) this test is to be performed with some tools and unaided eye. A dilution of white vinegar is poured on the cervix during this screening. Doctors pay attention to the details and keep an eye on abnormalities of the cervix, which turns white once it is exposed to vinegar. This screening is quite helpful in places where technology hasn’t developed much.
According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, 25 to 65 years old women must go through HPV tests once in every 5 years.
Cervical cancer is cured in various ways. The treatment is decided on the basis of how much it has spread and what kind of cervical cancer it is.
Several ways to treat this cancer are surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
- Surgery: Doctors detach cancer tissue by an operation. Surgery can be performed only after the doctors knowing the stage of cancer.
- Cutting away the cancer only. In a mini cervical cancer, there are possibility to cut off the cancer entirely with a core biopsy. Doctors may remove a cone-shaped piece of cervical tissue and leaving the other cervix intact.
- Trachelectomy. Just like mentioned above primary stages can be treated with radical trachelectomy procedure, in which cervix is detached along with some surrounding tissues.
- Hysterectomy. Some early-stage cancer can be treated with radical hysterectomy operation, in which doctors remove the cervix, uterus, a piece of the vagina and some surrounding lymph nodes. This treat can cure cervical cancer but removing uterus from the body might arise some issues in pregnancy.
- Chemotherapy: Doctors tend to diminish or kill the cancer cells by using special medicines. It may involve both taking pills and injection in veins. Chemotherapy in low doses is mixed with radiation therapy, since it can increase the effects of the radiation.
- Radiation: Eliminate cancer by using high-energy rays.