Cervical cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer for women worldwide. Cervical Cancer develops when abnormal cells grow on the surface of your cervix or in the cervical canal, forming a cancer. It is also one of the most preventable types of cancer because it can be prevented by a vaccination. When cervical cancer does develop, it is caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) over time and can easily be detected with a Pap smear.
Most cervical cancers are caused by strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection.
What are the symptoms of Cervical Cancer?
Here are the most common symptoms of cervical cancer:
- Abnormal bleeding after sexual intercourse
- Bleeding after menopause
- Abnormal pain during sexual intercourse
- Abnormal vaginal discharge
- Difficulty urinating or increased urinary frequency
- Persistent pelvic or back pain
Most patients are asymptomatic at the early stages of cervical cancer. Precancer and early stages of cervical cancer are also curable. That is why a regular pelvic exam and a Pap smear are an important step in diagnosing precancer and cervical cancer.
Most cervical cancers are detected during a routine pap smear. The diagnosis is confirmed with a pelvic exam, biopsy of the cervical tissue and/or colposcopy, a microscopic exam of the cervix. A Positron emission tomography (PET scan), a chest x-ray, and an MRI or CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis may also be ordered to determine if the cancer has spread and, what other parts of the body are affected.
Once the diagnosis has been confirmed, staging is a crucial step in determining the exact treatment plan. There are four stages of cervical cancer, beginning with stage 1 when the cancer is small to stage 4 when it may have spread outside of the pelvis.
How is Cervical Cancer treated?
The treatment options for cervical cancer depend on:
- The stage of the cervical cancer
- The size, location, and shape of the tumor
- Your health and age
- Your fertility concerns
For early-stage treatment, surgery or radiation combined with chemotherapy may be the treatment of choice. Advanced-stage cancers may require more aggressive treatments.
The treatment for cervical pre-cancers usually include:
- ablation, aka destroying the tissue
- conization where the surgeon removes a cone-shaped piece of cervical tissue
For more invasive cancers, a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) or trachelectomy (removal of the cervix alone) is recommended depending on the child bearing desires of the patient.
A hysterectomy or trachelectomy can be performed under general anesthesia with minimally invasive surgical techniques such as laparoscopic or robotic surgery or through open surgery.
What are the risk factors for Cervical Cancer?
An infection by the human papillomavirus (HPV), the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States, is the most important risk factor for cervical
cancer. Other factors include smoking, an active sexual history, long-term use of birth control pills, and a family history of cervical cancer or DES exposure
Cervical Cancer is both preventable and treatable.
At the Center for Gynecologic Oncology, we have seen firsthand how cervical cancer is both preventable and treatable. As gynecologist oncologists, we are dedicated to providing you with the most up-to-date treatments and the best possible outcome.
If you have an abnormal pap smear or experience any of the symptoms of cervical cancer, please call 954.602.9723 and schedule an appointment today or ask about our clinical trials.
For more information on Pap smears and cervical cancer