Cervical cancer is a slow-growing cancer that forms in tissues of the cervix (the organ connecting the uterus and vagina). Through regular pelvic exam and a Pap tests (a procedure in which cells are scraped from the cervix and looked at under a microscope), the pre-cancerous change in the cervix can be detected.
Cervical cancer is caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. Other factors identified include having multiple sexual partners, smoking, taking birth control pills and engaging in early sexual contact.
When caught early, cervical cancer can usually be cured and a woman may be able to have children after treatment. Treatments include hysterectomy and removal of pelvic lymph nodes with or without the removal of both ovaries and fallopian tubes; radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
Depending on how much the cancer has grown, patients may have one or more treatments or a combination of treatments. Cancer of the cervix is treated differently than cancer that begins in other parts of the uterus. Its stages may be determined through Chest X-rays, CT scan, MRI and a PET scan.
Signs and symptoms to look for:
- Abnormal bleeding and pelvic pain, unexplained change in menstrual cycle
- Pain and bleeding when something comes in contact with the cervix, such as during sexual intercourse or when you insert a diaphragm.
- Abnormal vaginal discharge containing mucus that may be tinged with blood.
When cervical cancer has progressed, these are signs and symptoms:
- Anemia due to abnormal vaginal bleeding
- Pelvic, leg, or back pain.
- Urinary problems caused by blockage of a kidney or urether
- Leakage of urine or fecal content into the vagina due to abnormal opening that has developed between the vagina and rectum.
- Weight loss
Prognosis of the patient depends on the stage of the cancer, the type of cervical cancer, and the size of the tumor.