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Cervical cancer: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About cervical cancer

Cervical cancer refers to the malignancy of the cervix which is located in the lower part of uterus. The cervix connects the uterus to the vagina which is the place below it. The cancer (abnormal growth of cells) in the cervix is slow growing but malignant. This is a silent cancer which generally does not exhibit any clinical symptoms in its early stage. In most of the cases, it is an accidental diagnosis during microscopic examination of a cervical swab.

Cervical cancer: Incidence, age and sex

Cervical cancer is a common malignant condition encountered in the general population. Although it may occur in any age group, it mainly afflicts women in their 20s and 30s.

Signs and symptoms of cervical cancer: Diagnosis

Many individuals with cervical cancer may not exhibit any symptoms until the advanced stage. Some commonly experienced symptoms include foul smelling vaginal discharge and vaginal bleeding between periods. This vaginal bleeding may especially occur after sexual intercourse or pelvic examination. Lower abdominal or pelvic pain or even dull pain in the back and weight loss are some features of malignancy that may be observed in an individual with cervical cancer. In very rare instances, when cancer has spread to the urinary bladder, a sharp pain may be felt during micturition.

The awful part of cervical cancer is that it may be missed at an early stage in most of the individuals due to lack of symptoms. The doctor may advice Pap smear wherein cervical swab is examined under a microscope which may reveal abnormal or cancerous cells. A biopsy of the cervical tissue may establish the diagnosis of cervical cancer.

Causes and prevention of cervical cancer

The most common cause of cervical cancer seems to be the human papilloma virus which causes warty lesions in the cervix. This viral infection, which can be spread by sexual contact, is the strongest risk factor predisposing individuals to the cancer of the cervix. Other risk factors include smoking, taking birth control pills, history of several pregnancies or early age of sexual intercourse. Women with a history of multiple sex partners, sexually transmitted disease and HIV infection are especially prone to be afflicted with cervical cancer. A regular screening test like Pap smear in high risk individuals may help in diagnosing this cancer at an earlier stage.

Cervical cancer: Complications

The relapse of cervical cancer after treatment may often be seen in some women. Thus, treatment of cervical cancer demands regular follow-up evaluation. Moreover cervical cancer as it progresses may spread to the urinary bladder resulting in pain during micturition.

Cervical cancer: Treatment

The treatment modalities include chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery. Surgical intervention wherein cervix is removed along with uterus, is the treatment of choice. This may be coupled with radiation or chemotherapy as and when needed. The drug, namely cisplatin is generally the most common chemotherapeutic medication prescribed to the affected individual. Regular follow up is recommended for detecting any relapses which may occur in future.