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Cervical Cancer: Symptoms, Risk factors, Lab Tests, Diagnosis and Treatment
Posted on Mar 31, 2015
The amplitude by which cancer is spreading across the globe is augmenting each passing day. Cancer in multiple forms is causing approximately 12% deaths throughout the world. In India, cervical cancer is the most common forms of cancer affecting female population. More women in India die of cervical cancer than in any other country. When exposed to HPV (human papillomavirus), a sexually transmitted infection women become vulnerable to cervical cancer. Initially, a woman’s immune system blocks the virus but in certain group it survives for years and coverts some cells on the cervix into cancer cells. More than 50% of cervical cancer cases occur in the age group 35-55.

Symptoms of Cervical Cancer

It’s unfortunate but you will not be able to witness any signs of cervical cancer because it doesn’t produce any, not at an early stage. As the cancer grows, warning signs may appear:

Risk factors involved in cervical cancer

  • An increase in number of sexual partners or an increase in number of your partner’s sexual partners can leave on the bad side of HPV. 
  • Having sex before you hit 18 increases your chances of acquiring HPV because under-developed cells are subject to the precancerous changes that HPV can cause. 
  • If you have sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea, HIV/AIDS or Chlamydia, you are at an increased chance of procuring HPV.  
  • Women with stronger immune system are less likely to develop cervical cancer. However, if your immune system is weakened by some other health complication, you may be more likely to develop HPV.

The Diagnosis

  • Your gynecologist will perform an examination named colposcopy wherein she’ll use a colposcope to examine abnormal cells of the cervix. She may take a sample of those unusual cells for further analysis. 
  • After taking the sample, the doctor performs a procedure called Biopsy where he or she uses a circular knife to remove a small part of cervix. Different kinds of biopsies may be performed according to the location of cancer cells.  
  • Conization or cone biopsy allows your doctor to examine deeper layers of cervical cells that may be required for lab testing.

Pap Test

Pap test is the best available method to detect precancerous conditions and small tumors that may cause cervical cancer. In the test, the doctor uses a device named speculum to wide open the vagina so that the cervix can be examined. Using a plastic spatula and small brush, he collects cells from the cervix and puts them into a solution. The solution is then sent for laboratory testing. It usually takes about a week for results to come. A normal pap test means cervical cells are normal. An abnormal pap test means cervical cells may contain cancerous cells. The test is not painful but can be discomforting.

Available Treatments for cervical cancer

When cervical cancer is restricted to the outside section of cervix, it is treated by simply removing the area dominated by cancer cells. No additional treatment is needed in such cases. However, if cancer cells lay in the interior section of cervix then Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP), Cryosurgery and Hysterectomy are available options now a days.

Cervical cancer vaccine

Yes, it is possible to reduce the impact of cervical cancer worldwide if women go through HPV immunization at an early stage. Three periodical doses starting as early as 9 years of age can give the necessary protection against cervical cancer. However, cervical cancer vaccination is not recommended for severely ill and pregnant women.
Written by : Lazoi Team
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