When atypical cells on the cervix grow uncontrollably, cervical cancer occurs. The cervix is a section of the female reproductive system that can be found in the lower section of the uterus. It is actually a canal that extends to the vagina. Cervical cancer may be cured if detected early; the key to early detection is regular pelvic examinations and identification of symptoms. Normally a pap smear can detect cervical cancer in its earliest stages. When this is done, treatment for the condition has a higher chance for success.
Causes of Cervical Cancer
In most cases, the cause of cervical cancer is a virus known as human papillomavirus or HPV. This virus is contracted when sex with an infected person takes place. Several strains of HPV exist but some strains do not trigger cervical cancer.
An individual can have the HPV virus and not exhibit or experience any symptoms for many years. This makes it important to have regular pap smears that are geared at detecting cell changes or abnormal cells in the cervix before they develop into cancerous cells. This is so since the key to preventing cervical cancer essentially lies in treating these abnormal cells as soon as they emerge.
When abnormal cell changes occur there are usually no symptoms. Sometimes symptoms may emerge when the cell changes evolve into cancer. Here are some symptoms of cervical cancer:
Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding
Unusual and unexplainable menstrual changes may signal the onset of cervical cancer. Any bleeding from the vagina that is abnormal may signify the presence of the condition. Blood tinged vaginal discharge may also mean cervical cancer.
Additionally, bleeding that is triggered by contact with the cervix may indicate cervical cancer. Contact with the cervix may include, but is not limited to, the use of a diaphragm or sexual intercourse.
Pain in the Pelvis
Pelvic pain can be one of the symptoms of cervical cancer if this pain is not connected to the menstrual cycle. Patients describe this pain as varying in intensity to the extent that it may be a dull ache or sharp pain that may last for several hours.
Pain during sexual intercourse is also an indicator of cervical cancer.
Pain during Urination
Women who experience bladder pain or pain during urination may be facing an advanced stage of cervical cancer. This usually occurs when the cancer has reached the bladder.
Diagnosis of Cervical Cancer
Sometimes symptoms of cervical cancer may not emerge until the disease reaches an advanced stage. Routine pelvic examinations, which include a pap smear, are therefore very important in order to ensure early detection.
Treatment of Cervical Cancer
When detected in its early stages, cervical cancer can usually be cured. Very early detection and treatment may also help to prevent adverse effects on a woman’s fertility.
Radiation Therapy and Chemotherapy are typically utilized to treat cervical cancer. Another medical treatment for the condition is a hysterectomy and removal of pelvic lymph nodes. This may or may not include removal of both ovaries and fallopian tubes
The treatment regime and its success will rely on the stage that the illness has reached.