Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that affects only women and begins in the lining of the cervix. The cervix is situated in the lower part of the uterus. Most cases of cervical cancer begin where the endocervix and ectocervix meet. The cancerous cells grow very slowly and usually patients do not exhibit any symptoms in the early stages of this condition.
Human papillomavirus (HPV), usually transmitted through sexual intercourse, is the main reason for developing cervical cancer. HPV vaccines and regular Pap smear tests are the only ways to prevent cervical cancer. Some symptoms exhibited by people with this type of cancer are bleeding during intercourse or after pelvic examination, increased urinary frequency, and bleeding post-menopause.
Treatments for cervical cancer depend on various factors such as the type of cervical cancer, its stage, and the patient’s overall health, and can include the following:
1. Stages and treatments for cervical cancer
Stage 0 precancerous cells are found in the cervix and if left untreated can spread to the nearby tissues and become cancerous. Also known as high grade or severe dysplasia, this stage is often detected by performing a cervical biopsy. Treatments for cervical cancer available for this stage include:
A process where abnormal cells are frozen using chemicals, allowing the growth of normal cells.
- Laser surgery
High-intensity laser rays are used to destroy cancerous cells.
- Cold coagulation
In this process, abnormal cells are burnt using a heat source.
Surgical removal of the uterus is performed.
2. Stage 1
The cancerous cells are confined to the womb and can be diagnosed only by evaluating the tissue samples. Options for treatments for cervical cancer depend on the patient as to whether they want to have children in the future, and their health conditions.
3. Stage 2
In this stage, cancer has spread to the upper part of the uterus and tissues next to the cervix.
4. Stage 3
Cancer cells have grown in the lower part of the uterus and could cause enlargement of the kidney.
5. Stage 4
Here, the cancerous cells have spread to other parts of the body, such as the liver.
Options for treatments for cervical cancer stages 2, 3 and 4 include the following. The frequency of treatments depends on the stage of cervical cancer.
- Radiation therapy
This option used as treatments for cervical cancer aims at administering radioactive rays at the cervix to kill the cancerous cells.
The medication used to slow down and kill the growing cancerous cells is known as chemotherapy. For treating cervical cancer, a combination of radiotherapy and chemotherapy known as chemo-radiation is used.
- Targeted therapy
Medications used for treating cervical cancer target only the cancerous cells without harming healthy cells. It stops the growth of unhealthy cells.
Medications used during this therapy help in boosting the body’s immune system, recognizing unhealthy cells, and destroying them.
- Targeted therapy