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Cervical cancer is a cancer that occurs in the woman's cervix and happens when the abnormal cells on the cervix grow and start to reproduce out of control. The cervix is the passage in the lower part of the uterus and opens into the vagina. Cervical cancer can happen in women over the age of 30, and can be detected early through a gynecological visit and a Pap test, or smear test.
During a pap test, the cells from the cervix are gently extracted and assessed under a microscope to assert if they are of the cancerous or precancerous type. Precancerous cells are cells that are not malignant yet, but have a higher chance of becoming cancerous cells in the future. Precancerous cells might lead to some symptoms such as abnormal vaginal bleeding, (e.g. outside of the usual period time), pain during sexual intercourses, sudden changes to the menstrual cycle, and unexplained vaginal discharge.
If the cervical cancer has not been detectedd has reached an advanced stage, the above symptoms might also be seen alongside other signs such as difficulty while urinating because of kidney problems, pain in the pelvis, legs and the lower back that could last months and/or, unexplained loss of weight. If any or all of these symptoms are being experienced a gynecologist should be consulted. The first test that will be performed is called colposcopy, in which the doctor will examine the cervix surface. After this, a cervical biopsy can confirm whether cancer is present and if so, it can also reveal what the stage the cancer is at. Other tests such as x-rays, CT scans and MRI scans, alongside with invasive exams like cystoscopies, will allow the doctor to examine the bladder and urethra to check if the cancer has spread there.
Which Cervical Cancer treatments are available abroad?
There are a number of different surgical procedures used to treat cervical cancer. A therapy called Cryosurgery , uses liquid nitrogen to freeze and destroy the precancerous cells, which is inserted into the cervix via a probe. In the case of pre-cancerous cells in the cervix, laser surgery is an option, in which a high-intensity beam is directed into the cervix to kill any abnormal cells. Both treatments do not require a hospital stay but usually a local anesthetic is needed. If cells have turned cancerous and spread into surrounding tissue of the cervix but haven't reached the lymph nodes, a hysterectomy might be needed to remove the entire uterus, including the cervix, but keeps all other components of the reproductive system in place.
This procedure can be carried out with the laparoscopic approach, which means that a thin tube with a camera is positioned inside the abdomen through a number of very small surgical incisions. The laparoscope is then used to control the surgical tool which removes the uterus, which means that a large incision is not needed and the hospital stay can be maximum of 3 days, even though, a full recovery can last up to 2 months. This procedure is not affecting the sexual life of the patient, but leads to infertility. Other treatments include: Radiotherapy , which can be either external in combination with Chemotherapy or either performed locally with a Brachytherapy , which reaches the cells internally through the vagina. For more information, read our Guide to Cervical Cancer Treatment .,
If you have received a positive result for Pap test screening, your doctor may recommend a surgery after evaluating your case. The surgery may be combined with other treatment options of chemotherapy, radiation, and/or targeted therapy.
Treatment for cervical cancer is a major surgery. On average, it may take up to 12 weeks to recover, but the recovery period can be more or less depending on individual factors. Most people can resume their routine activities of working, driving or travelling after 12 weeks.
After the surgery, patients should take precautions and follow a healthy lifestyle for faster recovery and increased life-expectancy. Make regular follow-up visits to keep track of health; Incorporate foods rich in antioxidants, healthy facts, and proteins, vitamins and minerals in diet; Avoid lifting heavy objects during the recovery period; Begin with mild exercises as suggested by doctor; Keep stress at bay.
Several risk factors contribute to development of cancer with varying degrees of risk exposure: Multiple sexual partners; Family history of cervical cancer; Weak Immune system; Use of Intrauterine device or oral contraceptives; Unhealthy lifestyle habits
Detection of cancer at the initial stage is highly curable with the advancements in medicine. However, Once the cervical cancer has spread (metastasized) to other parts of the body, the chances for a cure diminish greatly.