Cancer Of The Cervix
Cancer of the cervix does not happen overnight. The abnormal changes start to happen over a very long period of time. These changes are called dysplasia. These changes over time progress from mild dysplasia to severe dysplasia and then precancerous to cancerous changes.
The main cause of cervical cancer is HPV infection i.e. human papilloma virus infection. There are various factors that increase the risk of cervical cancer – e.g. multiple sexual partners, smoking, malnutrition, and onset of sexual activity at an early age.
Common symptoms are abnormal bleeding from the vagina, bleeding after sex, intermenstrual bleeding, and abnormal discharge and spotting. In advanced stages there may be bleeding from the urinary and back passage, severe pelvic pain and back pain.
The women may not have any symptoms and the cancer may be discovered accidentally on an abnormal Pap test report or routine examination.
The diagnosis is best made by a biopsy. This can be done in the outpatient or sometimes in the theater under anesthesia. One may need a complete examination under anesthesia, cystoscopy (that is to look into the urinary bladder with a camera to see if the cancer is invading into the bladder) and colonoscopy
(that is to look into the colon with a camera to see if the cancer has invaded into the back passage). This examination allows us to do the staging- i.e. the process to determine how far the cancer has spread. Most cancers have stage 0 to 4. The higher the number more is the spread.
Cervical cancer is treated with surgery radiotherapy and chemotherapy. The type of treatment depends on the type of cancer and the stage of cancer. Cervical cancer responds to treatment and can have very good results in the earlier stages.
But let us not wait for cancer to happen. We can prevent cervical cancer by regularly doing a pap test. It will detect the precancerous changes and enable you to access treatment even before the deadly cancer strikes.
So do not delay. If you have not done a pap test and are due for one, then come for a pap test now!!!