Cervical cancer is characterized by the proliferation of abnormal cells in the cervix’s lining. Squamous cell carcinoma is the most frequent type of cervical cancer, accounting for 70% of cases. Because it develops higher in the cervix, adenocarcinoma is less prevalent (approximately 25% of cases) and more difficult to diagnose.
In 2021, it was expected that 913 cases of cervical cancer will be diagnosed in Australia. A woman’s chance of being diagnosed by the age of 85 is 1 in 162.
Since the National Cervical Screening Program began in 1991 and a national Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccination program was launched in 2007, the incidence of cervical cancer has fallen dramatically.
Cervical cancer patients have a 74% chance of surviving for at least five years. Learn more about cervical cancer in this article of HealthoWealth.
Cervical cancer symptoms
Cervical precancerous alterations rarely generate symptoms. A cervical screening test is the only method to find out if any abnormal cells could turn into cancer. The following are the most prevalent symptoms of cervical cancer that result from early cell changes:
- vaginal bleeding between periods
- longer or heavier menstrual bleeding than usual
- discomfort during a sexual encounter
- bleeding after a sexual encounter
- pelvic discomfort
- a change in the consistency of your vaginal discharge, such as increased discharge or a strong or odd color or odor
- vaginal bleeding after menopause
Other disorders can produce the same symptoms, but if you’re concerned or your symptoms continue, see your doctor. Anyone with a cervix, whether straight, lesbian, gay bisexual or transgender, should be aware of this.
Causes of cervical cancer
Consistent infection with some high-risk forms of the human papillomavirus (HPV) causes almost all occurrences of cervical cancer; this is the leading cause of cervical cancer. Smoking is the other major risk factor for cervical cancer.
There is some evidence that women who have used the contraceptive pill for five years or more are more likely to develop cervical cancer in HPV-positive people. The danger is minor, and using the pill has been demonstrated to lower the risk of other malignancies like as ovarian and uterine cancers.
Other aspects to consider are:
- smoking and passive smoking
- a weakened immune system
- if your mother was prescribed diethylstilbestrol (DES), an artificial form of the female hormone estrogen during pregnancy.
Approximately eight out of ten women will contract genital HPV at some point in their lives. The majority of women infected with HPV do not develop cervical cancer; just a few kinds of HPV cause cervical cancer.
Diagnosis of cervical cancer
If the findings of your screening test indicate that you have cancer symptoms, you will be directed to a specialist for additional testing.
The following tests are commonly used to diagnose cervical cancer:
Colposcopy with biopsy
A colposcopy determines the location and appearance of abnormal cells in the cervix. A speculum is put into your vagina to allow the doctor to examine the cervix and vagina with a colposcope, which is magnifying equipment similar to binoculars. It is attached to your vulva but not inserted into your body. A colposcopist — usually a gynecologist or, in certain clinics, a nurse practitioner – performs the procedure.
If the colposcopist notices any questionable spots, a tissue sample (biopsy) will be taken from the cervix’s surface and examined under a microscope by a pathologist.
LLETZ or cone biopsy
You may need a big loop excision operation or a cone biopsy if any of the tests reveal precancerous cell alterations.
The most popular approach for removing cervical tissue for inspection and treatment of precancerous alterations of the cervix is the LLETZ procedure. It is frequently performed using a local anesthetic.
When there are aberrant glandular cells in the cervix or if early-stage cancer is suspected, a cone biopsy is performed.
After a diagnosis of cervical cancer
You may be surprised, scared, upset, or bewildered after learning that you have cervical cancer. All of these are typical reactions. Everyone reacts differently, and there is no such thing as a universal emotional response. Talking to relatives and friends about how you’re feeling could be beneficial. Talk to your doctor about your treatment options and get as much info as you can.
Treatment for cervical cancer
If cervical cancer is discovered, it will be staged, ranging from stage 1 (abnormal cells identified solely in cervix tissue) to stage 4 (cancer has gone beyond the pelvis to the lungs, liver, or bones). This assists your doctors in determining the best course of treatment for you.
Types of Treatment
The stage of the disease determines the treatment. Surgery, occasionally followed by chemoradiation therapy, is used to treat early and non-bulky illnesses (less than 4cm).
A cone biopsy may be sufficient if the tumor is tiny; but, in some circumstances, hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus) is required.
A combination of radiation therapy (radiotherapy) and chemotherapy (cisplatin) is used to treat locally advanced illnesses. Chemotherapy (platinum/fluorouracil) or palliative care alone are used to treat metastatic illness.
Your treatment team may include a variety of health specialists, depending on your treatment, such as:
- A GP (General Practitioner) is a doctor who is responsible for your overall health and collaborates with your specialists to manage treatment.
- A radiation oncologist is a physician who prescribes and oversees radiation therapy treatment.
- A medical oncologist is a doctor who prescribes and oversees chemotherapy treatment.
- Cancer care coordinators plan your treatment, communicate with your multidisciplinary team, and provide support to you and your family during your treatment.
- A dietitian will suggest an eating plan for you to follow during your treatment and rehabilitation.
- Social workers, pharmacists, and counselors are examples of allied health professionals.
Screening for cervical cancer
The incidence and fatality rates related to cervical cancer have halved in Australia since the inception of the National Cervical Screening Program in 1991. Women between the ages of 18 and 70 were eligible for a free Pap smear screening every two years as part of the program.
The Pap smear test has been replaced with the new Cervical Screening Test as of December 1, 2017. Most women aged 25 to 74 will be checked every five years under the new scheme. If you’ve had a Pap smear test before, you should wait two years before getting your first HPV test. If your HPV test is negative, you can wait five years before getting another screening. The adjustments are in recognition of the development of a vaccination against particular HPV strains in 2006. The National Cervical Screening Program will be renewed as a result of this. To assist lower the incidence of cervical cancer, the new screening program will work in tandem with the HPV vaccination program, which is available to both teenage males and girls.
You may be able to obtain a sample on your own under the guidance of a healthcare expert who also provides cervical screening. You must be at least 30 years old and have never had a cervical screening test or be at least two years overdue for one.
Visit the Cancer Council’s cervical screening page for more information on HPV and testing. The Australian Government Department of Health’s screening website has information about the renewed program. Cervical cancer will be eliminated as a public health issue in Australia for the first time, which is why the Cervical Screening Test is so vital.
Preventing cervical cancer
This is a vaccination that protects against certain forms of HPV, which are responsible for nearly all cervical malignancies. Gardasil 9 was created to protect against nine different forms of HPV, which are responsible for almost 90% of cervical malignancies. Most Australian girls and boys aged 12-13 and under will receive the HPV vaccine in school-based programs as part of the National Immunization Program. It is administered in two shots. When the second dosage is given 6-12 months after the first, the vaccine is most impactful.
If you’ve had the HPV vaccine, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get regular cervical cancer screenings. If you’ve been vaccinated against HPV, your first screening should be at the age of 25, and then every five years after that.
The prognosis for cervical cancer
A doctor cannot forecast the exact course of a disease because it is dependent on each person’s unique circumstances. However, based on the type of cervical cancer you have, the test results, the rate of tumor growth, as well as your age, fitness, and medical history, your doctor may offer you a prognosis, or expected outcome of the disease.
Cervical cancer can be effectively treated if identified early. The majority of women diagnosed with cervical cancer in their early stages will be cured.
Treatment for cervical cancer can make it very hard, if not impossible, to reproduce. If your fertility is important to you, speak with your doctor before beginning therapy.
If, after reading the article “Cervical cancer “, you liked it and became interested in studying in other fields of health and medicine, we suggest you read the following articles from the category cancer on our website.