Cervix cancer is a type of cancer located in the Cervix, lower portion of the Vagina. It is developed through the transformation of normal cervical cells into abnormal cells. Human Papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection, has something to do with the cause of cervix cancer. It is important to have regular checkups and screenings that help detect any pre-cervix cancer.
It begins with normal cervical cells changing into abnormal cells. As mentioned above, the main cause in women is HPV and it can be detected early on with Pap Smears (screening). Most women naturally fight off HPV, but a small percentage of them end up being diagnosed with cervix cancer. The development between the infection and its pre-cancer traits and actual cancer itself take several years. With the cervix cancer vaccination and proper screening, the chances of developing cancer decrease significantly.
Symptoms do not present themselves in the early stages of cancer. When cancer has taken hold, symptoms include vaginal discharge/bleeding, heavy/longer periods, pain around the pelvic area and bleeding after menopause. The vaginal bleeding could occur outside of periods and after sexual intercourse.
Types of Cervical Cancer
The first type is called Squamous Cell Carcinoma. It affects the squamous cells that occupy the outer area of the cervix, going into the vagina. It is said that most cervix cancers are squamous cell carcinomas. The second type is Adenocarcinoma, which surrounds the glandular cells in the cervical canal. It is also possible for both of these types to be present at the same time. There aren’t many cases where other cells within the cervix are affected by cancer, mainly the two mentioned types.
There are several available treatments for cervix cancer and doctors perform a few tests to determine the best one. Treatments include chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy. The decision to pursue these treatments is not taken lightly, like age, cancer progression, and current health status are taken into account.
Surgery is an option for early-stage cervical cancer treatment. Doctors concentrate on removing a part of the cervix on the uterus while trying to preserve as much tissue as possible. The preservation of fertility is a very crucial element throughout this entire ordeal. This surgery is officially called a Hysterectomy. After the hysterectomy, a team of doctors will analyze the results to find out whether or not there is a further risk of cancer. If there is, then some radiotherapy and chemotherapy may be given.
Radiation therapy targets cancer cells and kills them off with high energy x-rays using imaging equipment. Radiation therapy consists of two types of treatments: External Beam Therapy (EBT) and Brachytherapy. EBT involves treatment outside of the body and brachytherapy involves treatment that is inside of the body. EBT targets a wider area and kills off cancer cells in the tumor and lymph nodes. Patients are required to attend treatment sessions for five weeks, five days per week with weekly blood tests to record progress.
There are important steps that can be taken to reduce risk. Look into the HPV vaccine as it can ultimately prevent cancer. Schedule Pap Tests, which detect early signs of precancerous cells. Doctors can have the opportunity to eliminate these early threats. Next is to practice safe sex, as it is the most common way of becoming infected with HPV.
Get into the habit of using a condom every time and limit the number of sexual partners. Finally, do not smoke and if you do, try your best to quit as soon as possible. Smoking is linked to causing cancer in general and many people with cancer have a history of smoking.