Cervical Cancer: Early Detection and Expert Treatment Could Save Your Life
What is cervical cancer?
Cervical cancer is cancer that originates in cells that line the cervix, the narrow, neck-like lower part of the uterus that connects it to the vaginal canal. More than 12,000 women are diagnosed with cancer of the cervix each year, and more than 4,000 deaths are caused annually by cervical cancer.
Before introduction of the Pap smear test in the 1930s, cervical cancer was the leading cause of cancer deaths among women. Pap screening can find changes in the cervix before cancer develops and in its early stages, when it is most curable. Since the development of the test, cervical cancer deaths declined by more than 50%.
What puts a woman at risk for developing cervical cancer?
Cancer of the cervix tends to affect women in midlife, with most cervical cancer affecting women under the age of 50. However, many older women don’t know that the risk of developing cervical cancer remains as they age. In fact, women over age 65 account for more than 15% of cervical cancer cases.
The most common cause of cervical cancer is infection of the cervix with human papillomavirus (HPV), though not all women with an HPV infection will develop cancer. Having a Pap test screening routinely is the best method for detecting abnormal changes to the cervix before they develop into cancer. As a result, not having routine Pap screenings increases a woman’s risk for developing cervical cancer.
There are other factors that can increase a woman’s risk. Be sure to discuss with your Ob/Gyn doctor how these factors may affect your risk level:
- Family history of cervical cancer
- Sexual history
- Use of oral contraception
- Weakened immunity
What symptoms may reveal the presence of cervical cancer?
Symptoms of cervical cancer often aren’t experienced until the cancer becomes invasive and grows into nearby tissue, well past the early stages. But here are the symptoms commonly experienced by women with cervical cancer:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
- Vaginal discharge
- Pain during intercourse
These symptoms are also symptoms of other conditions, such as an infection. But don’t ignore them, as they could be cancer, could grow, and could reduce the effectiveness of treatment.
Detection and diagnosis of cancer of the cervix.
If detected early, cervical cancer is very curable. Make sure Pap screenings are part of your routine gynecologic care starting at age 21. Your doctor may order an HPV DNA test, in which cervix cells are tested for infection with types of HPV that are likely to lead to cervical cancer.
Diagnosis of suspected cervical cancer usually begins with a colposcopy exam to check for abnormal cells. If any are found, your doctor is likely to take a sample of cervix cells (biopsy) and send them to a pathology lab. Biopsy is how cancer is confirmed or ruled out. If cancer is confirmed, further testing — generally medical imaging and visual examination — will be used to determine the cancer’s stage, a key factor in determining which treatment will be best for you.
How is cervical cancer treated?
A woman’s individual options for treatment depend on several factors, with cancer stage first among them. (Stage describes the size, depth of invasion and spread of the cancer.) Other factors are age, general health, your circumstances and preferences, etc.
Your cancer care team will present recommended options, and you should carefully consider them, comparing benefits and risks. At Alpha Med Physicians Group, you are always encouraged to ask questions. Common types of treatment for cancer of the cervix are:
- Radiation therapy
- Targeted therapy
These treatments could be used alone or in combination based on your individual needs. Also, your cancer care could include these medical specialists:
- Gynecologic oncologist
- Radiation oncologist
- Medical oncologist
Choose Alpha Med for advanced, experienced and compassionate treatment for cervical cancer.
Alpha Med Physicians Group’s oncology specialists have decades of experience treating women who’ve been diagnosed with cervical cancer. In our care, you or your loved one will be treated not merely with today’s most effective therapies but with the heartfelt caring and personal dedication you deserve.
You’ll get the same leading-edge treatments following the same proven standard-of-care protocols you’d find at large, famous-name cancer center. Along with them, you’ll have a team of professionals who care about you and treat you with the utmost understanding, service and respect.
For more information, or to schedule an appointment for cervical cancer treatment in Tinley Park, Homewood, Palos Heights and the greater Chicago area, call 708-342-1900. You can also request an appointment using the easy online form on this page.