Cervix is the lower part of the female reproductive system. Cervix is almost 2 to 3 cms in length and almost cylindrical in shape. It has a central canal in it. Cervix connects the uterine cavity to the vaginal passage. It has two openings at both the ends. One opens into the uterine cavity and the other in the vaginal lumen. When there is abnormal growth of the cervical cells it is said to b a case of cervical cancer.
It is one of the most common cancers occurring in females all around the world. It is also one of most common cancer related cause of deaths in the developing world. In India, every year almost 1.25 lacs females get diagnosed with cervical cancer and almost cause of 75000 deaths.
The patients may not suffer from any symptoms in the early stages. Later on, they might complain of the following
- Vaginal bleeding
- Bleeding after sex
- Pain while having sex
- Vaginal discharge
- Recurrent vaginal infections
- Bleeding after a vaginal douche
- Loss of apetite, weight loss
- Fatigue, weakness
- Pain in legs , pelvis, back
- Swollen legs
Cervical Cancer can be Caused by Following
Human papilloma virus (16, 18) infection is the most common cause for contracting cervical cancer. It is involved or found in almost 90% of the cervical cancer cases.
Smoking is carcinogenic. Smoking can also trigger the abnormal growth of cells of the cervix resulting in cervical cancer
Birth Control Pills
Long term use of contraceptive pills also predisposes the women to develop cervical cancer in later life.
Multiple Sexual Partners
Women having multiple partners are at an increased risk for developing cervical cancer in their lives.
Women having had more than 5 to 6 pregnancies are at four times the risk of developing cervical cancer than the women having had one or two pregnancies.
PAP smear is a screening test to diagnose cervical cancer. The PAP smear can also done in a procedure called as colposcopy (visualisation of the mouth of the cervix). The spatula is introduced in the cervix, the inner lining of the cervix is scraped and visualised under microscope after staining. Abnormal cells finding may indicate cervical cancer. It is necessary to undergo this screening test every 6 months after the age of 30.
In a colposcopy procedure, a piece of the cervical tissue is removed from the cervix. This area is decided with the help of iodine. Iodine is pushed around the opening. The abnormal tissue won’t take up the yellow colour and the biopsy is taken from the unstained part which is more likely to show presence of abnormal cells.
The cervical cancer is managed with following modalities of treatment:
The gynaecologists will advise to undergo a hysterectomy in which the uterus along with the cervix is removed in order to stop the spread of the cancer.
Radiation therapy can also be given in the cases where the cancer spread is beyond the walls of the cervix and in the neighbouring tissue.
A combination of chemotherapy, radiotherapy is also useful in treatment of cervical cancer.
It’s necessary to diagnose the condition as soon as possible for the better outcome of the treatment. Having a PAP smear every 6 months after the age of 30 is necessary to diagnose or rule out the condition.