Cervical cancer is cancer that starts in the cervix, the lower part of the uterus (womb) that opens at the top of the vagina. Cervical cancers start in the cells on the surface of the cervix. There are two types of cells on the cervix's surface: squamous and columnar. Most cervical cancers are from squamous cells.
Causes of Cervical Cancer
• Almost all cervical cancers are caused by HPV (human papilloma virus). A woman's sexual habits and patterns can increase her risk for cervical cancer. Weakened immune system is also a risk factor for cervical cancer.
Most of the time, early cervical cancer has no symptoms. Symptoms that may occur can include:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding between periods, after intercourse, or after menopause
- Continuous vaginal discharge, which may be pale, watery, pink, brown, bloody, or foul-smelling
- Periods become heavier and last longer than usual
Symptoms of advanced cervical cancer may include Back pain, Bone pain or fractures, Fatigue, Leaking of urine or feces from the vagina, Leg pain, Loss of appetite, Pelvic pain, Single swollen leg and Weight loss.
Treatment of cervical cancer depends on the stage, size and shape of the tumor. Women’s age and her desire to have children in the future are also a factor for treatment. Early cervical cancer can be cured by removing or destroying the precancerous or cancerous tissue. There are various surgical ways to do this without removing the uterus or damaging the cervix, so that a woman can still have children in the future.
Types of surgery for early cervical cancer include Loop electrosurgical excision procedure, Cryotherapy and Laser therapy.
Treatment for more advanced cervical cancer may include:
- Radical hysterectomy, which removes the uterus and much of the surrounding tissues, including lymph nodes and the upper part of the vagina.
- Pelvic exenteration, an extreme type of surgery in which all of the organs of the pelvis, including the bladder and rectum, are removed.
Radiation may be used to treat cancer that has spread beyond the pelvis, or cancer that has returned. Radiation therapy is either external or internal.
- Internal radiation therapy uses a device filled with radioactive material, which is placed inside the woman's vagina next to the cervical cancer. The device is removed when she goes home.
- External radiation therapy beams radiation from a large machine onto the body where the cancer is located. It is similar to an x-ray.