Cervical Cancer Care
“Cervical cancer is closely linked to a virus known as human papilloma virus and the main mode of mode of transmission of HPV is through sexual contact”
Cervix is that part of the uterus between the body of the uterus and the vagina. Cancers of the cervix behave difterently from the cancers of the body of the uterus.
Cervical cancers are quite common in developing countries and are one of the leading cancers in women in India.
Development of cervical cancer is closely linked to a virus known as the human papilloma virus (HPV). The main mode of transmission of HPV is through sexual contact. And the chances of developing HPV infection are higher in the cases where there is:
- Multiple sexual partners.
- Poor genital hygiene.
- Repeated genital infections.
- Bleeding outside menstrual periods.
- Bleeding after sexual intercourse.
- Persistent white discharge.
- Chronic pelvic pain.
- Few patients can be asymptomatic.
- Pap smear : This is a test commonly performed to screen ladies for cervical cancer. The test is recommended to all ladies who are sexually active. This test is usually a part of the annual health check. Even ladies with a normal result are recommended to get it done once in three-five years.
- Colposcopy : Some women with an abnormal pap smear are advised colposcopy in which the gynaecologist examines the cervix under magnification and then takes necessary biopsies.
- Cervical biopsy : In case of a growth on the cervix, a biopsy is taken to confirm cancer. It cervical cancer is confirmed or suspected, the doctor may order further imaging like CT scan, MRI or PET scan.
After confirmation of cervical cancer, the stage of the cancer is determined. Cervical cancer is staged from l-IV depending on the extent of the spread. Surgery is preferred in early cases of cervical cancer and involves a procedure called radical hysterectomy where the uterus, ovaries and lymph nodes around the uterus are removed.
In more advanced cases, treatment is usually a combination of chemotherapy and radiation, Surgery is reserved for women who do not respond to chemotherapy and radiation. Chemotherapy alone, is given in advanced cases of cervical cancer as a palliative measure.
Vaccines can help prevent HPV infection and it is recommended for all girls between the ages of 11-13, given in three doses over a six-month period.