Every year more than half a million women are diagnosed with cervical cancer. About 300,000 deaths occur in the world. Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), is the main cause for this disease. Nearly 90% of women with cervical cancer are from low-income and middle-income countries. This is mainly because they are not aware of the HPV vaccination that can protect against the HPV infection. This disease is preventable. Countries which were able to conduct screening programs have reduced number of cases.
Cervical Cancer, caused by HPV, is the third leading malignancy among women globally, first stands breast cancer, followed colorectal cancer, and third is cervical cancer. To a certain extent in the last 30 years, cervical cancer is reducing worldwide on account of screening programs, people taking care of their health and improvements in treatments.
Cervical Cancer starts in the cells of the cervix that is in the lower part of the uterus that is connected to the vagina. Mostly it is a sexually transmitted infection. Sometimes when exposed to HPV the body’s immune system is so strong that it does not allow the virus to harm the body. In a few people, the virus remains for years and causes some cervical cells to turn into cervical cancer. The cancer can sometimes affect the deeper tissues of the cervix and can also spread to the lungs, liver bladder, vagina and rectum.
Early stages, there are no symptoms.
As the disease advances the symptoms are:
- After intercourse bleeding in the vagina, sometimes between periods and after menopause.
- The discharge from the vagina may be watery and with blood and a foul smell might emit.
- There is a pain during intercourse and pain in the pelvic.
- Immediately it’s better to see a doctor.
CAUSES OF CERVICAL CANCER:
- When healthy cells in the cervix develop changes, the cervical cancer starts.
- The abnormal cells multiply, gather and form a mass ( tumor ).
- Sometimes these cancer cells attack the nearby tissues and break off from a tumor and spread to the other parts of the body.
- HPV is the main cause for cervical cancer.
- Environment and lifestyles also is a factor for the disease.
TYPES OF CERVICAL CANCER:
The main types of cervical cancer are:
- SQUAMOUS CELL CARCINOMA—Most of the cervical cancers are squamous cell carcinoma. This starts in the thin, flat cells lining the outer part of the cervix which goes into the vagina.
- ADENOCARCINOMA: A column-shaped glandular cells that line in the cervical canal this cervical cancer starts.
RISK FACTORS OF CERVICAL CANCER:
- NUMBER OF SEXUAL PARTNERS—If sexual partners are more, chances of developing HPV increases.
- EARLY SEX: If a person has sex at an early age then risk of getting HPV also is more.
- OTHER SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTIONS: HIV/AIDS increase the risk of HPV.
- A WEAK IMMUNE SYSTEM: If a person has HPV, the immune system becomes weak and the chances of developing cervical cancer increases.
- MISCARRIAGE PREVENTION DRUG: If the pregnant woman has taken a drug, chances of getting adenocarcinoma cervical cancer may be a possibility.
PREVENTION FROM CERVICAL CANCER:
- DOCTOR’S GUIDANCE: Under the guidance of the doctor, take a HPV vaccine to reduce the risk of cervical cancer.
- PAP TESTS: This test helps in detecting the condition of the cervix, so that cervical cancer can be prevented. From the age of 21 this test can be done and can be repeated every few years.
- HAVE SAFE SEX: Limit the number of sexual partners, using a condom while having sex can reduce the risk of cervical cancer.
- QUIT SMOKING: Do not Smoke. With the help of the doctor, quit smoking.
TREATMENT FOR CERVICAL CANCER:
- To treat Cervical Cancer a team of doctors are included, like—
- A gynecologist-a doctor who treats female reproductive system.
- A gynecologic oncologist—a cancer specialist in cancers of the reproductive system.
- A radiation oncologist—a doctor who uses radiation to treat cancer.
- A medical oncologist a doctor who uses chemotherapy and other medicines to treat cancer.
1) Depending on the type and stage of the cancer, the type of treatment is decided.
2) For earlier stages of cervical cancer—SURGERY or combined with RADIATION and CHEMOTHERAPY is given.
CRYOSURGERY—The treatment kills the cancer cells by freezing them.
LASER SURGERY—A laser is used to burn the cancer cells.
HYSTERECTOMY—The uterus and the cervix is removed.
3) For later stages, RADIATION generally combined with CHEMOTHERAPY is the main treatment.
4) Advanced cervical cancer is treated through CHEMOTHERAPY only.
STAGE-WISE OPTIONS TO TREAT CERVICAL CANCER:
Options are according to whether a woman wants to have children, according to age, type of cervical cancer and overall health is also considered.
Depends if the woman wants to have children or if the cancer has grown into the blood or lymph vessels.
A CONE BIOPSY, is done if the woman wants to have children after the cancer is treated. It is also known as CONIZATION.
Depends if a person is able to have children.
A CONE BIOPSY, RADIATION AND CHEMOTHERAPY can be the line of treatment.
The treatment depends according to the stages.
At this stage the cancer has spread to the other parts of the body, out of the pelvis region and generally not curable.
Radiation Therapy without Chemo to help to slow the growth of cancer or relieve the symptoms.
RECURRENT CERVICAL CANCER:
RECURRENT CANCER, is if the cancer comes back after treatment. At this stage surgery, radiation or chemo, immunotherapy or targeted therapy can be done, recovery chances are less. Discussion with the doctor is very important at this stage for the line of treatment.
DIET FOR CERVICAL CANCER:
The food that is believed to protect and fight the cancer is known as FLAVONOIDS. They are—apples, asparagus, black beans, broccoli, cabbage, cranberries, garlic, lettuce, onions, soy and spinach.
The other food is known as FOLATE. They are avocados, peas, lentils, orange juice, strawberries. CAROTENOIDS FOOD IS – CARROTS, ORANGE, SWEET POTATOES, PUMPKIN.
AWARENESS AND KNOWLEDGE OF CERVICAL CANCER:
Cervical Cancer, is the second most common cancer globally, while it is the commonest cancer among Indian women. The overall knowledge of the disease is very poor in our country. Some women are aware of the risk factors of cervical cancer but lack the knowledge about the screening tests. Hence it is important to increase the level of awareness and knowledge of cervical cancer and its prevention.
For Consultation : Cancer Specialist and oncologist