Introduction to Cervical Cancer
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By: Omar Abdulle
What is Cervical Cancer?
Cervical cancer is a disease that affects the cervix of the female reproductive system. The cervix is located in the lower part of the uterus; it connects the vagina to the uterus. Cervical cancer can be classified to two types, Squamous cell carcinomasand Adenocarcinomas. Squamous cell carcinomas account for 80-90 % of all cervical cancer cases. Meanwhile, Adenocarcinomas in found in the glandular cells of the cervix makes up for 10-20% of cervical cancer cases.1
Most cervical cancer starts in the cells in the transformation zone. The cells do not immediately change into cancer. The normal cells of the cervix slowly develop benign tumours that turn into cancer. Only some of the women with pre-cancerous tumours in the cervix will develop cancer. It normally takes several years for benign tumours to turn into malignant tumours.
Statistics indicate that 1,500 Canadian women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2016. An estimated 400 will die from it.2
Most cases of cervical cancer are caused by a high-risk type of HPV. HPV is a virus that is passed from person to person through genital contact, such as vaginal, anal, or oral sex. If the HPV infection does not go away on its own, it may cause cervical cancer over time.3 The viruses in the sexual transmitted (HPV) trigger abnormal behavior in the cervical cells causing pre-cancerous conditions.
- Many sexual partners.
- Early sexual activity.
- Weak immune system.
Detection and Diagnosing
Cervical cancer that is detected early can be treated successfully. Doctors recommend regular screening to detect any abnormal cells in the cervix. During screening Doctors will conduct Pap tests to find out the DNA of the cervical cells. The purpose of Pap test is to spot the cancer cells in the cervix. If not diagnosed with cervical cancer, doctors highly suggest continuing screening as risks of getting cervical cancer are high.
If cancerous cells are found in the cervix, Doctors will perform the following tests to examine the cervix. The tests are;
- Punch Biopsy - Involves a sharp tool to pinch off cervical tissue for further examination.
- Endocervical curettage - small spoon-shaped instrument to brush a tissue sample from the cervix.
The final stage of detecting and diagnosing cervical cancer is called staging. At this point, Doctors have determined you have cervical cancer. Staging can be divided in to for sub-sections. They are:
- Stage I - Cancer is restricted.
- Stage II - Cancer is existent in the cervix and upper vagina.
- Stage III - Cancer is moving.
- Stage IV - Cancer has spread to other nearby organs and parts of the body.
Taking precautionary steps is the right path to reduce the risk of contracting cervical cancer. Experts suggest;
- Avoid exposure to Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).
- Get a HPV vaccine.
- Avoid smoking.
Forms of Treatment
Just like other forms of cancer, cervical cancer can be treated through the main forms of treatment. I.e. Surgery, Chemotherapy, Radiation therapy, and Targeted therapy.
- Determines how far the cancer has spread.
- Treats cancer successfully during the early stages.
- Treats cancer that has spread excessively.
- Treats cervical cancer that returns after treatment.
- Drug used with chemo to stop cancer growth.
- This method is still in process.
Current research and Potential cures
Doctors and scientists are working hard to find out the best ways to prevent and best treat cervical cancer. These methods will improve the functionality of the treatments method, detection and diagnosing. Improvements are being to screening and detection methods. Another innovative and also potential cure is called Immunotherapy, also known as biologic therapy. This is designed to boost the body's natural defenses to fight the cancer. It uses materials either made by the body or in a laboratory to improve, target, or restore immune system function.5
- Types of Cervical Cancer | CTCA. (0001, January 01). Retrieved March 02, 2017, from http://www.cancercenter.com/cervical-cancer/types/
- Cervical cancer statistics - Canadian Cancer Society. (n.d.). Retrieved March 02, 2017, from http://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-type/cervical/statistics/?region=on
- EPublications. (n.d.). Retrieved March 02, 2017, from https://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/cervical-cancer.html
- "Cervical Cancer: Latest Research." Cancer.Net. N.p., 10 June 2016. Web. 02 Mar. 2017.
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