Table Of Index
What is cervical cancer?
Cervical cancer is a type of cancer which affects the cells of the cervix, which is the lower part of the uterus connecting to the vagina. Cervical cancer is caused because of the uncontrolled growth of cells in the cervix. This is a common type of cancer in women and can be prevented with early screening and treatment. Initially, no symptoms are seen in cervical cancer, but symptoms begin to appear in the later stages. It is mostly caused by human papillomavirus (also called HPV). HPV infection is common and might not cause serious symptoms. However, in some cases it could result in cervical cancer. Regular pap tests can detect all changes in the cervical cells before they can tu into cancer.
Types of cervical cancer
Squamous cell carcinoma: Between 80-90 out of 100 cervical cancers are squamous cell cancers. Squamous cells are the flat cells that cover the cervix's outer surface.
Adenocarcinoma: Adenocarcinoma is a type of cancer that begins in the gland cells which produce mucus. The cervix has numerous glandular cells located along the inside of the passage running from the cervix to the womb. Adenocarcinomas are less common compared to squamous cell cancer.
Adenosquamous carcinoma: Adenosquamous cancers are tumors that have both glandular and squamous cancer cells. This is considered a rarer type of cervical cancer. These cancers are treated the same ways as squamous cell cancers of the cervix.
Causes and Symptoms
Pap test: In a Pap test, a doctor slowly scrapes the outside as well as inside of the cervix, taking out samples of cells for the purpose of testing. Improved Pap test techniques have made it quite easier to find cancerous cells.
Colposcopy: Colposcopy is done to check the cervix for abnormal areas. This test can also be done to help guide a biopsy of the cervix. In a colposcopy, a special tool called a colposcope is used.
Biopsy: Biopsy involves the removal of a small quantity of tissues for examination under a microscope. While other tests can suggest the presence of cancer, only a biopsy could make a definite diagnosis. If a lesion is small, it can be removed during the biopsy.
Computed tomography (CT) scan: A CT scan creates 3-dimensional images of the structures inside of the body showing any abnormalities or tumors. A CT scan may be used to measure a tumor’s size.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): It uses magnetic fields to create detailed images of the body. This test can be used to measure a tumor’s size.
Positron emission tomography (PET): A PET scan is generally combined with a CT scan. A PET scan can create pictures of organs as well as tissues inside the body. This scan can produce detailed images of cervical cancer.
Risk & Complications
Blood clots: Surgery in your pelvis raises the risk of clotting in the veins of the legs. You might need to have injections to prevent this for a month after surgery.
Infertility: If the patient has a hysterectomy, they may lose fertility. If you undergo radical trachelectomy, you might be able to get pregnant, but special antenatal care will be needed. Talk to the health expert if you wish to have children after this surgery.
Lymphoedema: Lymphoedema can happen after surgery if the lymph glands are removed. When the glands are excised, they may no longer drain away excess fluid in the body.
Bowel side-effects: There may be constipation, as bowels may be lazy following surgery. The patient might have to take a laxative.
Preparation of Treatment
There are a few things you need to follow before undergoing cervical cancer surgery. Preparing before the surgery raises the chance of success of the procedure. Stop smoking as you may not respond well to the treatment and your side effects can worsen if you are using tobacco. Start and continue some physical exercises as it helps build increase the patient’s strength for recovery. Your doctor will advise you for the right type of exercise. You need to improve diet and nutrition. The dietitian will suggest steps for maintaining your normal weight during treatment. Alcohol may make the treatment less effective and can affect the recovery.
Get HPV vaccine: HPV is a sexually transmitted virus and is a leading cause of various types of cancer including cervical cancer. Advancements have led to the discovery of a vaccine which protects against nine strains of HPV.
Quit smoking: The most important decision for those willing to prevent cervical cancer is to avoid smoking. The toxic substances present in tobacco smoke may weaken the body’s immune system as well as damage cellular DNA, which contribute to cancer growth.
Follow a cancer prevention diet: Consume foods that are rich in antioxidants and other cancer-fighting elements, and do not follow diets that include large quantity of saturated and trans fats, sodium and sugar.
Exercise regularly: Studies have revealed that getting nearly 30 minutes of exercise a week could help prevent cervical cancer.
Limit the number of sexual partners: People who are sexually active with just one partner could still contract the HPV virus which causes cervical cancer, a person may cut their risk by remaining monogamous.
Radiation: Radiation therapy uses energy beams to destroy cancer cells in the cervix. There are 2 types of radiation therapy - exteal beam radiation therapy and brachytherapy.
Chemotherapy: It uses drugs to kill cancer cells. The drugs enter the blood and kill cells anywhere in the body. There are many drugs used for chemo and they might be combined. Chemo is mostly given in cycles.
Surgery: Different types of surgery may be used to treat cervical cancer. Some common types of surgery for cervical cancer are laser surgery, cryosurgery and cone biopsy.
Targeted therapy: Targeted drug treatment kills some specific cancer cells without causing damage to healthy cells. This works by targeting proteins which control growth and spread of cancer cells.
Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy uses some medicine to boost the immune system to destroy cancer cells.
Recovery after cervical cancer treatment
After cervical cancer surgery, most individuals can retu to normal activities after a few weeks. However, it may take up to 3 months to completely recover. The hospital stay as well as recovery time could be longer if the patient had lymph nodes from the stomach removed. You need to follow the instructions provided by the doctor for a successful recovery. Follow healthy diet and take suggested medications on time. Always maintain hygiene to prevent any infection. Take proper rest and slowly increase your activities.
Award-winning CEO of Marlin Medical Assistance Pvt. Ltd
Dr. Mohammad Afzal Siddiqui is an award-winning CEO of Marlin Medical Assistance Pvt. Ltd., a professionally managed medical tourism holding company and the active Director of Alshifa Healthcare Services Pvt. Ltd., a full-service medical tourism aggregation agency servicing JCI and NABH/ NABL accredited Hospitals across the country’s 5 locations.
In addition to Marlin, Alshifa also includes Media Group, which houses Arabic Medical Tourism e-Magazine healthandtour.com. The E-magazine “مجلة الصحة والسياحة” provides a wide scope of medical tourism information to healthcare travellers to find a safe, effective and cost-saving solution for their medical and healthcare needs. In addition to running E-Magazine, Dr. Mohammad Afzal also serves as Delhi-state coordinator in Foundation of Healthcare and Wellness Promotion focused on bringing India’s Healthcare closer to the world and smoothen world’s access to Indian Healthcare.