What is cervical cancer?
Cervical cancer is a tumor that affects the female reproductive system in the outermost area of the uterus exactly at the cervix. The onset of cervical cancer is due to an uncontrolled multiplication of some cells located in the squamo-columnar area that turn into malignant cells.
It is a form of cancer whose impact in the Western world has been substantially reduced thanks to the prevention implemented through screening programs while it still remains the second cause of death due to cancer for women living in developing countries.
What is Cervix
As mentioned above cervical cancer occurrs in Cervix. The cervix is the lower and narrow opening of the uterus. It leads from the uterus to the vagina. The cervix has a donut-like shape if you look through the vagina.
Cervical cancer usually takes years to develop. During this time cervical cells change and grow rapidly. The first changes that occur before it becomes fully developed cancer are called Dysplasia or Crvical intraepithelial neoplasia. If these changes are detected and treated then cervical cancer can be prevented. Without diagnosis or treatment, cervical cancer can spread to other parts of the body and become deadly.
What are the causes of cervical cancer?
The causes of cervical cancer are to be found mainly in infections of the genital tract, among which Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection is the main responsible.
The women most prone to cervical cancer are those between the ages of 30 and 50, but some risk factors that apply to all women regardless of age are recognized:
- An early sexual activity.
- A sexual promiscuity of the woman or even of the partner, as the chances of contracting the Papilloma Virus infection increase considerably.
- The cigarette smoking.
- Have given birth many times or at an early age.
- The weakening of the immune system.
What are the symptoms of cervical cancer?
The cervical cancer evolves slowly and in the first part of its development is substantially asymptomatic and you do not feel any kind of pain or physical signal that manifests its presence.
Cervical cancer in detectable only in this first phase thanks to the screening programs that you are able to understand if pre-cancerous lesions are developing.
However, there may be signs that make a gynecological check necessary like pelvic pain, bleeding or pain during sexual intercourse, unusual vaginal discharge, abnormal vaginal bleeding outside the menstrual cycle.
How can cervical cancer be detected?
Through the pap test which consists of rubbing a wooden stick on the external surface of the cervix to remove some cells it is possible to identify if there are tissues that are going to undergo structural modifications.
If abnormal cells are found to be present then gynecologist performs a colposcopy with biopsy of the cervix .
In case of detection of high-grade dysplastic lesions, the patient will undergo ambulatory conization surgery which is a procedure that involves the removal of a portion of the cervix and careful follow-up that leads to the healing of the disease.
How can cervical cancer be treated?
In the presence of advanced cervical cancer the available treatments are radical hysterectomy which involves the total removal of the uterus, cervix and part of the vagina and radiotherapy in association with chemotherapy in locally advanced forms.
The probability of recovery in the case of finding high-grade and in situ dysplastic lesions is hundred percent by performing the conization and then a careful follow-up. In the case of advanced cancer surgery and radiotherapy ensure excellent therapeutic results.