What is Cervical Cancer?

Cervical cancer tends to develop slowly inside the surface cells of the cervix. The cervix has two types of surface cells known as squamous and columnar. Squamous cells are where the majority of cervical cancers originate.

Cervical cancer is caused overwhelmingly by HPV(Human PapilIomavirus). HPV is a commonly spread STD, taking various different forms and causing diverse effects for those afflicted. Some forms of HPV lead to cervical cancer and genital warts, other varieties of the illness prove to be harmless.

Prevention and Detection

Unfortunately, early cervical cancer rarely displays any warning symptoms. This is why regular Pap smears are so essential for prevention. Cervical cancer starts out as a pre-cancerous condition known as dysplasia. This condition is detectable during a routine pap smear and is completely treatable. Most women diagnosed with cervical cancer have gone years, even decades without a Pap smear.

If the results of a pap smear, indicate abnormalities, a colposcopy is typically performed. This procedure magnifies the cervix and allows doctors, to properly examine areas of concern.

When symptoms do occur, they typically consist of vaginal bleeding between periods after intercourse and

Post-menopause. Other symptoms of cervical cancer include a pink and brown vaginal discharge that has a very distinct odor.

Treatment and Recovery

Thanks to advances in modern medicine, hysterectomies are rarely performed for cervical cancer that hasn’t spread. For early stage cases, cervical cancer can be completely cured by removing cancerous tissue. Several surgical methods exist to accomplish this.

Laser surgery is the most common and least intrusive way to cure cancer of the cervix. Other treatment methods exist, such as having abnormal cells frozen and removing abnormal tissue with electricity.

Treatment options are much more intrusive for advanced cervical cancer. Typically a radical hysterectomy will be performed, in which the uterus is completely removed along with much of the surrounding tissue. In only the most extreme circumstances will a pelvic exenteration take place. This high risk procedure involves removing all organs of the pelvis, such as the rectum and bladder.

In many situations, non-surgical options are available. Radiation treatment is commonly used for fighting cervical cancer. Internal radiation treatment consists of filling a medical device with radiation and inserting it inside the vagina.

While this certainly doesn’t sound pleasant, it’s an effective method of treatment. The device is removed before the patient leaves the hospital. External radiation may also be used by having machines beam radiation down on cancerous areas

No woman needs to become a victim of cervical cancer. Regular pap smears and practicing safe sex will all but ensure one never has to experience the burden of this disease.

 

 

References

American Cancer Society (2014). HPV. Retrieved January 8, 2014, from http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/othercarcinogens/infectiousagents/hpv/

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Division of STD Prevention (2013, January 14). STD Facts - Human papillomavirus (HPV). Retrieved January 8, 2014, from http://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/stdfact-hpv.htm

Mayo Clinic (2014). HPV infection Definition - Diseases and Conditions - Mayo Clinic. Retrieved January 8, 2014, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hpv-infection/basics/definition/con-20030343

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