Treatment Guides

Diagnosis and Treatment of Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer occurs in the lowest part of the uterus, and is currently the fourth most common cancer in women around the world.

quick details
WHO IS THIS FOR
  • Patients who have been diagnosed with cervical cancer.
PROGNOSIS
  • The 5 year survival rate for cervical cancer is between 15%-93%, based on the stage you have been diagnosed with.
TREATMENT DURATION
  • The surgery may take an hour to three hours, and will vary based on the kind of surgery you will be undergoing.
  • Chemotherapy is carried out in cycles, to allow the body to rest. You may receive the drugs for a week and recover for another 3, and these 4 weeks make a full cycle. The total number of cycles prescribed to you will depend on your individual case. General factors such as your current age, health status and medical history also play a role.
  • Radiotherapy sessions last for a for a couple of minutes and are carried out 5 days a week, for a few weeks. The amount of cycles you will receive depend on the stage of your cancer and related factors.
POTENTIAL RISKS & SIDE EFFECTS
  • The general as well as the specific risks associated with cervical cancer surgery are - bleeding, infection, blood clots, bladder problems and early menopause.
  • Radiotherapy side effects include: fatigue, nausea, diarrhoea, pain, changes in appearance of your skin, infertility, bladder changes amongst others.
  • Complications of chemotherapy include hair loss, nausea, weakened immune system, loss of appetite, diarrhea, fatigue, mouth sores.
CERVICAL CANCER

Causes and Symptoms of Cervical Cancer

Causes and Risk Factors

The following risk factors increase your likelihood of being diagnosed with cervical cancer:

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV): As the same suggests, HPV is a virus and can be passed on through sexual contact (skin-to-skin). HPV16 and 18 are known to be associated with cervical cancer.
  • Smoking: Smoking is associated with a higher risk of developing cervical cancer.
  • Weakened immune system: If you have a weak immune system, then it is easier to be infected by HPV or for it to develop into cancer.
  • Continued use of oral contraceptives: Research has shown that long term use of oral contraceptives increases your chances of getting cervical cancer.
  • Family history: If a close member of your family has previously had cervical cancer, then your chances of being diagnosed with the disease increases.
  • Age: Cervical cancer mainly occurs in women over the age of 35, and the risk increases as you age.
  • Diethylstilbestrol (DES): DES is a hormone, and children of women who took this drug tend to be at a higher risk for cervical cancer. Multiple young pregnancies: Having more than 3 pregnancies, as well as having your pregnancies when you were younger than 17 increase your chances of developing cervical cancer.

Symptoms

Following are the main symptoms of cervical cancer:

  • Vaginal bleeding (during or after sex, between your period cycles, and after menopause)
  • Pain during sex
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Pain in your lower back, sides and pelvis
  • Urinary or bowel incontinence
  • Many of the symptoms can also be found in other, related diseases and some are only found at advanced stages of cervical cancer. It is essential to undergo the recommended diagnostic tests and consult with an oncologist before a final diagnosis is made.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis and Screening

In addition to a consultation where your oncologist will discuss your medical history and carry out a physical exam, here are some of the basic diagnostic tests you will/can undergo:

  • Medical history and physical examination: In order to get a full picture of your risk factors and any genetic influences, a full medical history will be taken by your doctor. He/She will also perform a pelvic exam and check your lymph nodes.
  • Pap screening test: During this procedure, the doctor will take a sample of cells from your cervix and observe it for abnormalities under a microscope. If any abnormalities are found, you will be asked to undergo further diagnostic tests.
  • Colposcopy: Uses a magnifying device known as the colposcope to further look into your cervix for areas of abnormal growth. Based on this, a biopsy may be carried out.
  • Imaging tests: Such as CT, MRI and X-rays are used to look inside the body, to check whether the cancer has spread and where it has spread to.
  • Cystoscopy and Proctoscopy: These tests are used to check if the cancer has spread to the bladder/urethra or rectum.

How is cervical cancer treated?


Surgery
Surgery is often used treat cervical cancer. There are three main types:
1. Trachelectomy: Carried out laparoscopically, in a trachelectomy only the cervix, the upper part of your vagina,and lymph nodes are removed. The uterus is preserved.
2. Hysterectomy: The surgery is performed under general anaesthesia. In case of a simple hysterectomy only the uterus and cervix are removed, whereas in a radical hysterectomy, surrounding uterus tissue and a small part of the vagina along with the uterus and cervix are also removed. There are different ways of carrying this procedure out, such as using a laparoscopy, robot-assisted, through the abdomen or through the vagina.
3. Pelvic exenteration: This is the most radical surgery for cervical cancer. The procedure is carried out only when the cancer has recurred. The surgery involves removing the cervix, uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes along with the bladder, rectum and vagina depending on where the cancer has metastasized to.

Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy works by using anti-cancer drugs to kill or shrink the cancerous cells and to prevent the spread of cancer to other areas of the body. It can be administered as a pill or given intravenously. Chemotherapy can be given before or after the surgery to shrink the tumor and to prevent the cancer from returning respectively. It is also given in combination with radiotherapy or as palliative care for late stage cancer.

Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy works by aiming high energy waves at the cancerous cells. This treatment, as chemotherapy, can be given before and/or after surgery and is also used for shrinking the tumor when surgery is not an option.

What should I expect from this procedure?

Please bear in mind, that your medical history, your environment which includes family and friends, your lifestyle habits, genetics, the type and intensity of cancer you have, all play a role in deciding the course of your treatment. Many times a combination of treatments is recommended, and this may change through the duration of your illness. This is done so the doctor can ensure that you are getting the best possible treatment for your individual case.

How do I find the right doctor?

We understand that before going through a major treatment like surgery or radiotherapy, you may be feeling unsure and want a second opinion, or you would like to look for the top oncologist specializing in Cervical cancer, or for a clinical trial doing cutting edge research. For support with any of these queries and question, Qunomedical is here for you 24/7.

WHERE CAN I FIND A DOCTOR?

Qunomedical Health Managers have an all-round knowledge to find the right specialist for you. Learn more about Qunomedical.