Cervical Cancer| Cervical Cancer Symptoms, Causes, Treatment
What Is Cervical Cancer?
Cervical Cancer-Cervix is the narrow tunnel-shaped entrance to the womb in female reproductive system of humans. When cancerous cells develop in the cervix, the disease is called “Cervical Cancer”. An unprecedented abnormal growth of harmful cells without any restraint causes cancer. The unexplained sudden genetic change in the DNA results in the formation of anomalous defective cell structure which is characterized by poor efficiency, anomalous harmful behaviour, rapid proliferation and non-perishability. Due to their very nature of having no end to their life-span, the older cells continue to remain in the system permanently, in spite of the continuous upsurge of similar new cells. The generation of new pernicious cells continues to grow unabatedly; and the co-existence of older harmful cells along with the ever-increasing new deadly cells leads to spreading to other neighbouring parts due to lack of space at the site of their origin. The spread of cancerous cells to other parts is called metastasis. The most obnoxious feature of malignant/cancerous cells is that the defective cells are not only of harmful nature but they spoil the proper functioning of the adjacent healthy cells, tissues and organs as well.
General Causes of Cervical Cancer
In most of the cases, cervical cancer occurs due to a virus known as papillomavirus, or shortly HPV. The virus can be transmitted through coitus from a person who has already been infected with it. Although there are many types of HPV virus, not all of them can cause cancer. Non-cancerous infections of HPV go away on their own without causing serious complications. But some of them may result in genital warts which can turn carcinogenic. In view of the potential peril of HPV virus, women are often advised to have regular check-up through Pap tests. The Pap tests are capable of identifying the cells which have potential to turn malignant. Prompt discernment of pre-cancerous cells enables the effective prevention of cervical cancer.
For women who are aged 26 or younger, the HPV vaccine is recommended which protects them against all types of HPV virus that can lead to the most cases of cervical cancer.
Common Symptoms of Cervical Cancer
The most common indications of cervical cancer are as follows:
- Fetid vaginal discharge
- Pain in pelvic region
- Vaginal discharge with traces of blood
- Painful experience during sexual discourse
- Bleeding after coitus
- Intermittent blood-flow between menstrual periods
- Outflow of blood after menopause
- Recurring infections in female genitals.
The seriousness of cervical cancer can be gauged by the extent of its growth and spread. In order to take up any specific type of medical treatment, it is essential to measure its growth and the extent of metastasis which has been generally classified into four categories:
- Stage Zero – Precancerous cells are present.
- Stage One – Cancer cells must have grown from peripheral tissues and spread into internal tissues of cervix and uterus
- Stage Two -- The spread of cancer is limited to cervix and uterus
- Stage Three – Cancer cells must have invaded the lower part of vagina and the walls of pelvis, even blocking the urinary tract of urethra
- Stage Four – In the initial phases of stage four, cancer cells affect the bladder and rectum spreading out of pelvis. In the later phases, relatively distant organs like liver, kidneys, lungs might be affected.
Medical Treatment of Cervical Cancer
The pre-cancerous cells or the grown-up malignant cells are identified by Pap test or biopsy of the suspected growth. The treatment of cervical cancer depends on the extent of cancerous growth. Depending on the count and the extent of spread of cancerous cells, one or a combination of the following methods might be taken up :
- Surgery, such as hysterectomy and/or resection of lymph nodes. The removal of one or both ovaries or fallopian tubes is at the well-deliberate sole discretion of the surgeons.
- Chemotherapy (through oral medication, injections or catheters)
- Radiation therapy which involves direct exposure of the harmful tumours to high-intense X-rays; or placement of thin plastic tubes containing appropriate radio-isotopes into the suspected area of cancerous cells, called brachytherapy.
Since most of the cervical cancer cases arise due to fornication with partners already infected with HPV virus, it is always recommended to use condoms invariably and restrict the number of partners as least as possible. Women who have been given radiation therapy are most likely to develop fragility of bones. They are advised to be more alert and avoid fractures by hitting against hard objects or surfaces. After radiation therapy, patients are given supplementary medication to make good the loss of calcium or vitamin D.
In addition to the above treatments, depending on the specific nature of individual case, certain complementary treatments are suggested like acupuncture, light massage, meditation or yoga, breathing exercises or aromatherapy. These may give relief from back-pain, headaches, joint pains and help in psycho-somatic treatment. However, such types of treatments are to be selected on well-deliberate considerations and strict recommendations of medical experts.