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Cervical Cancer

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Posted by on Tuesday, February 1, 2011, 7:26
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The lowest narrow end of the uterus is known as cervix. It is opening of the uterus that is connected to upper vagina. Before the development of cancer, the cervical cells undergo certain changes, known as dysplasia. During this stage, abnormal cells start to appear in the cervical tissue. After that, cancer cells begin to grow and spread into cervix and surrounding areas. Cervical cancer is characterized by an abnormal growth of malignant cells in the cervix. It is the second most common cancer in females and occurs generally between 40 and 55 years of age. It can be successfully cured if detected in the early stage. Every year, more than 11,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cervical Cancer
Cervical Cancer

Causes of Cervical Cancer

Generally cancer is caused by a genetic mutation in the healthy cells. Cervical cancer mostly starts in the flat, thin squamous cells of cervix. Squamous cell carcinoma is responsible for about 80% of cervical cancers. Cervical cancer may also occur in the glandular cells of cervix. Adenocarcinomas account for about 15% of cervical cancers. Abnormal changes in the cervical tissues are associated with certain factors such as previous infection with human papillomavirus (HPV), multiple sexual partners, early sexual contact, oral contraceptives and smoking. HPV infection is the major risk factor for cervical cancer. Some other risk factors are weak immune system and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia or HIV/AIDS. Now let’s know about cervical cancer symptoms and treatment.

Cervical Cancer Symptoms

There may not be noticeable cervical cancer symptoms, until it is progressed to a dangerous stage. Some of the common symptoms of cervical cancer are:

* Pelvic pain or pain during intercourse
* Vaginal bleeding between periods
* Unusual vaginal discharge
* Longer and heavier menstrual periods
* Bleeding after menopause

Diagnosis of Cervical Cancer

If detected at an early stage, cervical cancer can be successfully treated. Regular screening for precancerous changes in the cervix and cervical cancer is very essential. The most important test for early detection of cervical caner is Papanicolaou test (Pap smear). Thanks to Pap test screening, the death rate due to cervical cancer has significantly decreased over the last 50 years. The cervical cells in precancerous stage can be detected through abnormal Pap smear test. HPV screening test is another test to determine the HPV infection. Diagnosis of cervical cancer is done on the basis of colposcopy, biopsy and cone biopsy.

If you are diagnosed with cervical cancer, then staging of cancer is extremely important in order to decide the treatment plan. Staging is done on the basis of imaging tests such as X-rays, MRI scan and CT scan and visual examination of bladder (cytoscopy) and rectum (proctoscopy).

Cervical Cancer Treatment

In case of limited, noninvasive cancer, the treatment focuses on removing the abnormal area of cervical cells. Noninvasive cancer can be removed by cone biopsy, laser surgery, hysterectomy, cryosurgery and Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP). No additional treatment is required for most women.

In case of invasive cancer, more extensive treatment is needed. Cervical cancer treatment depends on various factors such as stage of the cancer, other health problems and patient’s own preference. Different treatment options are hysterectomy, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

You can minimize the risk of cervical cancer by taking some preventive measures. First, you should prevent the HPV infection, by avoiding contact with an infected person. You should get vaccinated against HPV. Routine Pap test is the most effective way to detect cervical cancer at an early stage. Ensure to get it done regularly after the age of 21.

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