Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is a type of illness that affects the cervix, the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. It is caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection.

The main symptom of cervical cancer is abnormal bleeding, but it can also cause pain during sex, pelvic pain, and weight loss. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus (womb) that connects to the vagina.

It is a cylindrical shaped organ that is about 2-3 centimeters long and 2-3 centimeters wide. It has two main functions: to separate the uterus from the vagina and to produce cervical mucus.

The cervix also plays an important role in pregnancy, as it serves as the opening through which a baby passes during childbirth. In pregnancy, it remains firm and closed to protect the developing fetus, but during labor, it dilates to allow the baby to be born.


Cervical Cancer: Symptoms and Causes

Symptoms of cervical cancer include abnormal vaginal bleeding, such as bleeding between periods, after sexual intercourse, or after menopause. Other symptoms include pelvic pain, discomfort during sex, and vaginal discharge that is different from normal.

The main cause of cervical cancer is the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection. Other risk factors for this illness include smoking, a weakened immune system, and having multiple sexual partners. It is also important to practice safe sex, get vaccinated against HPV, and quit smoking to reduce the risk of it.

How is Cervical Cancer Diagnosed?

Cervical cancer is usually diagnosed through a combination of methods, including a pelvic exam, a PAP test, and in some cases, a biopsy.

During a pelvic exam, a healthcare provider will physically examine the cervix, uterus, and ovaries, looking for any abnormal growths or changes. A PAP Smear involves collecting cells from the cervix and analyzing them for abnormal changes that may indicate the presence of cancer.

If abnormal cells are found during this examination, a biopsy may be performed to confirm the diagnosis. A biopsy involves removing a small sample of tissue from the cervix for examination under a microscope.

In addition to these tests, imaging scans such as MRI, CT scans and PET scans may be performed to determine the stage of the cervical cancer and to check if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.


Cervical Cancer: Treatment

Cervical cancer treatment can be applied in different ways, especially if the case is caught at an early stage. Which method will be used depends on the type of this illness, its stage and the patient’s future pregnancy decision.

There is a procedure that is performed only to stop the cancer and its application is made with biopsy. A cone-shaped piece of tissue is cut off, the rest is left as is. It is ensured that the patient can become pregnant.

The name of the surgery to remove the cervix is trachelectomy. It involves removing the cervix and surrounding tissues in an early-stage case. Since the uterus will remain, the patient may become pregnant after treatment.

The name of the method in which the uterus and cervix are completely removed is hysterectomy. It is also applied in early stage cancers and includes removal of the cervix, uterus, part of the vagina, and lymph nodes. It can also prevent the recurrence of the disease.

However, since the uterus is removed, this method does not allow pregnancy. It is also known that hysterectomy with minimal incision is less effective than the traditional one.

There are also radiotherapy and chemotherapy options. They are generally considered as the first choice in locally advanced cervical cancers. Sometimes they are also applied after surgery.

Innovative treatment immunotherapy, the use of which has increased in recent years, is one of the options. It is very important that the immune system is active in the treatment of cervical cancer. Thanks to this treatment, the body can fight cancer on its own.

It is also possible to provide palliative care to patients in more advanced stages. The aim here is to reduce pain and increase the quality of life as much as possible. The patient’s motivation also plays a role in life expectancy. However, it is a process that must be followed meticulously by a team of experts in the field.