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Cervical cancer is the second most common type of cancer amongst women and makes up 16.5 per cent of the total cancer cases. It occurs in the cells of the cervix, the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. It can also spread to other parts of the body, such as the liver, bladder, vagina and rectum.
Most cervical cancers originate on the cervix surface and are caused by the HPV virus. When exposed to the HPV strain, the body’s immune system prevents the virus from doing any harm. However, the virus can survive for years and cause some cervical cells to become malignant. Based on the formations, cervical cancer is categorized into three types:
In the early stages, cervical cancer doesn’t cause any symptoms. Most women don’t even realize they have cervical cancer until the late stages. When symptoms do show up, they can be easily mistaken for other conditions, such as menstrual periods and urinary tract infections (UTIs). Symptoms of cervical cancer are likely to include:
If one has any of these symptoms for more than a week, they should consult with their doctor immediately.
Cervical cancer is caused when healthy cells turn malignant and form a tumour that invades and destroys healthy cells and tissues. In the majority of the cases, the cancer is caused by two HPV strains HPV-16 and HPV-18. HPV is a very common sexually transmitted disease and is highly contagious.
While HPV is the leading cause of cervical cancer, other factors can also increase the risk, including:
Screening tests can detect the precancerous cells that may turn malignant in future. For an accurate diagnosis, our doctors will perform screening tests to examine the cervix and to take a tissue sample for the biopsy. These screening tests include:
Cervical cancer is very treatable when detected early. If cervical cancer that’s caught in the early stages, the five-year survival rate goes up to 92 per cent. However, if cancer has spread within the pelvic area, it drops to 56 per cent. Based on the spread, possible complications and the patient’s preference, our doctors will recommend the most-effective treatment option for bladder cancer.
In early-stage, surgery is the most-effective for cervical cancer. The purpose of surgery is to remove as much cancer as possible, which depends on its size and stage. Our doctor will surgically remove the cancer cells that may involve removing the cervix and other organs in the pelvis. The most common types of cervical cancer surgery are:
Laser surgery is a minimally invasive surgery to remove cancer and the surrounding tissues. Our doctors will use a laparoscope to insert a laser beam that burns off and removes the cancerous cells.
Cone surgery is a minimally invasive surgery to remove cancer entirely with a cone biopsy. Our doctors will cut away a cone-shaped piece of cervical tissue, leaving the rest of the cervix intact.
Trachelectomy is performed to treat early-stage cervical cancer. Our doctor will only remove the cervix and some surrounding tissue, leaving the uterus intact.
Hysterectomy is used to treat more extensive cancers that have spread beyond the cervix. Our doctors will make several small incisions or one large incision in the abdomen to remove the cervix, uterus, part of the vagina and nearby lymph nodes.
In chemotherapy, our doctors will use a group of drugs to stop cancer from spreading. Cancer cells absorb the drugs faster than normal cells, thus slowing their growth. These drugs can be delivered through a vein or a catheter, depending on the stage of cancer.
Our surgeon will use controlled radiation to damage or destroy the DNA of cancer cells. Our radiation oncologist will use a machine to direct the energy beams on the cancer cells. It can be used in combination with chemotherapy if surgery isn’t an option.