March 25, 2021
Cervical cancer is a type of cancer in which there is an abnormal growth of cells that occurs in a woman’s cervix which is located at the entrance of the uterus from the vagina.
According to the researchers*, approximately 13,960 cases of invasive cervical cancer will be detected in the United States in 2023.
Cervical cancer can be prevented through vaccines if given at the right time. Cervical cancer is one of the most successfully treated cancers when found early and well monitored. It can still be treated even if it’s found at a later stage.
There may be few or no symptoms in the early stages. However, as time passes, certain symptoms may begin to emerge:
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, we recommend you go to your gynecologist.
Cervical cancer is primarily diagnosed in the following ways:
Your doctor can use a swab to take a sample of cells from your cervix. This sample is further sent for lab analysis.
A Pap smear can also detect alterations in your cervical cells that indicate future cancer development. This helps in identifying whether you are at risk of developing cancer in the future.
Your gynecologist could advise you to get additional tests based on your age when you receive your Pap test. The importance of a pap smear at different ages is explained in detail as follows:
As per the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), It’s recommended that you start getting your pap smear tests done from the age of 21. If your Pap test results are normal, your doctor may recommend you wait three years before having another one.
In this age group, the doctor usually suggests that you take the Pap test along with the HPV test. If the results are normal, then it’s recommended that you wait for 5 years before getting another test done.
Many older women do not realize that the risk of developing cervical cancer is still present as they age. As per the American cancer society, about 20 percent of cervical cancer cases occur in women who are 65 and above. However, even then treatment is available, and it can be cured in most cases.
The HPV (Human papillomavirus) test is a cervical cancer screening test, but it does not determine whether you have cancer. Rather, the test looks for HPV, a virus that causes cervical cancer, in your body. Cervical cancer is increased by some kinds of HPV, such as types 16 and 18.
Knowing if you have a kind of HPV that puts you at high risk for cervical cancer allows you and your doctor to make more informed decisions about your health care.
An HPV test is usually combined with a Pap smear, which collects cells from your cervix to evaluate for abnormalities or cancer. An HPV test can be done using the same sample as a Pap test or by a second sample taken from the cervical canal.
The HPV test is usually done for women who are aged 30 and above. Under the age of 30, the HPV test is neither recommended nor helpful. HPV is quite common and spreads through sexual contact.
Learn more about the Diagnosis of Cervical Cancer and getting it right here.
There are certain risk factors for cervical cancer, such as:
It is one of the primary causes of cervical cancer. In fact, WHO states that almost all cervical cancer cases (99%) are linked to infection with human papillomaviruses (HPV), an extremely common virus transmitted through sexual contact.
Believe it or not, smoking can cause cervical cancer! Women who smoke have been found to have tobacco by-products in their cervical mucus. The DNA of cervix cells is thought to be damaged by these compounds, which may lead to the development of cervical cancer, as per researchers.
If the immune system is affected by another health issue and HPV is detected, a woman is more likely to develop cervical cancer. The immune system ensures the removal of cancer cells as well as the stopping of their growth and spread. In HIV-positive women, a cervical pre-cancer can progress to invasive cancer more rapidly.
There is evidence that long-term use of oral contraceptives (OCs) increases the risk of cervical cancer. According to research, the risk of cervical cancer increases the longer a woman uses OCs, but the risk decreases if the OCs are stopped, and returns to normal many years later. A woman and her doctor should talk about whether the advantages of using OCs outweigh the risks.
While the above are the most common causes, there are also other causes such as
Cervical cancer treatment options depend on the type and stage of cancer, as well as the overall health of individuals. The following are some of the most common treatment options for cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer is most commonly treated with surgery, especially if the cancer is detected early. There are several different types of surgery options that can be considered based on the stage. Surgical treatment can involve a total or partial hysterectomy (removal of ovaries and fallopian tube) as per individual health status.
In this form of treatment, radiologists use high-energy rays of radiation to kill cancerous cells. A combination of radiation therapy and weekly chemotherapy is commonly utilized in the early stages of cervical cancer. During this treatment, a radiation oncologist may suggest avoiding sexual intercourse until a few weeks after the treatment.
This treatment procedure involves the use of medications to prevent cancer cells from growing, dividing, and producing new ones. For cervical cancer, chemotherapy is given along with radiotherapy for optimum outcomes.
One of the main types of immunotherapies used in treating cervical cancer is immune checkpoint inhibitors. These drugs target specific proteins in immune cells or cancer cells known as checkpoints, which regulate immune responses. By blocking these checkpoints, immune checkpoint inhibitors help unleash the immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells more effectively.
Read more: How Immunotherapy Works to Treat Cancer
In 2022, approximately 13,000 new cervical cancer cases were diagnosed in the United States. But it is crucial to remember that prevention is possible with a few precautionary measures. Stay informed and consult a physician to take the necessary preventive steps.
ACTC is one of the best Florida Cancer centers. Our patients are our top priority at ACTC. Our providers curate personalized cancer care plans based on individual health requirements.
* Cervical Cancer - Statistics. (2023, February 23). Cancer.Net.
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