Cervical Cancer

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What is cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer means cancer of uterine cervix, the part of uterus that continues in to vagina (birth canal) below.

How common the cervical cancer is?

Cervical cancer is second most common cancer, after breast cancer in Indian women. Every year about 1.3 lakhs women are diagnosed and about 74,000 women die of disease in our country.

What are common risk factors for cervical cancer?

Pre-invasive lesions of cervix and very early cervical cancer may not cause any symptoms. So, it becomes very important to attend regular cervical cancer screening with pap cytology test or HPV DNA Test or both for early detection as cancer can be cured 100% in early stages.

However, some of the common symptoms of cervical cancer are:

What are common risk factors for cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer is not hereditary, so, if a mother had cervical cancer, her daughter is not at higher risk for the same.

It usually presents in reproductive age group between 40 to 55yeras of age.

All cervical cancer cases are preceded by stage of pre-invasive lesion of cervix (caused by Human Papilloma Virus infection) that last for about 10 years, and are easily identifiable (with Pap smear cytology test) and are 100% treatable lesions.

Some common risk factors to acquire HPV infection:

In case you have any of above mentioned symptoms, you should contact specialist on a priority basis.

Regular cervical screening with Pap smear test plus HPV DNA Teat is the best way to prevent cervical cancer as they pick up any abnormal cell changes, which can be easily treated before they develop into cervical cancer.

All these tests are required to know whether the cancer has spread to other organs. Not all tests are required for every woman. The combinations of tests are decided based upon type of cancer ns the women’s profile.

How the diagnosis of cervical cancer confirmed?

Women with abnormal results on cervical screening or with symptoms as mentioned above will be taken up for examination:

On examination, if a lesion/ulcer is present on cervix, a biopsy will be taken to confirm the diagnosis.

In the absence of any visible lesion on cervix, colposcopic directed biopsy will be done. Colposcopy involves examining the cervix under a microscope (a colposcope) and application of a solution that can turn any suspicious lesion white, thus, will able to take biopsy.

Then the biopsy specimen will be studied under microscope to look for presence of cancerous cells.

How to decide the stage of cancer?

Cervical cancer is one cancer where stage is determined before surgery.

Once the diagnosis of cervical cancer is confirmed on biopsy, additional tests are done to know about how much cancer has spread to neighbouring as well as distant organs (called as staging):

What are the treatment options for cervical cancer?

Depending upon the stage, Women are grouped into early stage and locally advanced stage cervical cancer.

For early stage, surgery is the main treatment followed by radiation if required.

For Locally advanced cervical cancer, Radiation therapy along with chemotherapy is the treatment.

Cervical cancer is a readily preventable cancer as it takes a long time for pre-invasive lesion of cervix to progress to cancer. Regular cervical screening with HPV DNA along with Pap test is the best way for prevention.

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