Cervical cancer is a very common type of cancer. The widespread use of pap smear test by gynecologists increased the chance of early diagnosis of this cancer type. Abnormally growing cells in the cervix usually can be detected in the age range of 25-35 years. Early detection is very important to catch cancer before it occurs. If they are not detected at an early stage, these abnormally developing cells may transform into cancer cells over time. If the cervical cancer is detected at an early stage, the survival rate is 95%.
Cervical cancers, there are no specific signs in the early period. While the person is continuing her normal life, these unexpected cellular changes will turn into cancer over time. Every woman should regularly have gynecological examination after the age of 21, if she has an active sexual life and sample should be collected for PAP smear test during this examination. In advanced stages of cervical cancer, intermittent bleeding, bleeding arising after menopause, painful sexual intercourse and inguinal pain occur. Therefore, the earlier the smear test is performed, the more useful it will be.
Findings to be checked first in cervical cancer:
- Because of insidious onset without any sign, it does not reveal any finding (PAP smear is diagnostic in this period)
- When the cancer spreads to nearby tissues more, findings show up
- Apart from menstrual bleedings, excessive abnormal bleeding, discharge, inflammatory appearance may be a finding in cervical cancer.
- Feeling pain during sexual intercourse, presence of bleeding, difficult sexual intercourse may arise as a finding in cervical cancer
- Inappetency, weight loss and anemia occur towards the advanced stage and patients feel exhausted.
Factors that cannot be definitely proven, but are considered as risk factors in cervical cancer;
- Starting to have sexual intercourse before 18 years of age
- Having multiple deliveries
- Smoking and alcohol consumption
- Having bacterial and viral infections
- Vitamin A deficiency
- Vitamin C deficiency
- Lifestyle with low socioeconomic status
- Uncircumcised partner
- Weak immune system
- Genetic predisposition
What is done for the diagnosis and treatment?
- Medical and physical examination of the patient; the patient’s anamnesis is taken in terms of risk factors. The predisposition, other previous diseases and physical condition are evaluated.
- Cystoscopy and examination under general anesthesia are performed to check cancer spread. Anesthesia is administered during these procedures, in case of necessity, a tissue sample is taken and analyzed.
- Rectoscopy (colonoscopy): Cancer presence is checked by observing the large intestine with the help of a tube with light and camera.
- Biopsy: The samples taken from the cervix are examined in the pathology laboratory and cancer is identified. Depending on the stage and distribution, appropriate treatment is initiated.
What type of imaging tests are performed on cervical cancer patients?
- Computed tomography
- Intravenous urography
- Magnetic resonance imaging
- PET (positron emission tomography), if necessary
- Cervical cancers between the stages 1 to 2 (including IIA), which are limited and has not spread, are treated surgically. In this surgery, the uterus, ovaries and one third of the vagina (the upper part), and the lymph nodes in the pelvis and around the aorta are removed.
Cervical cancer, It is possible to treat tumors of earlier stages using laparoscopic or robotic surgery. This type of surgery does not cause the formation of any scar in the patient, bleeding, pain, infection occur less commonly and the patient is discharged and returns to work earlier.
- For patients with advanced stage cancer and poor general condition, radiotherapy and chemotherapy are considered to be appropriate. Depending on the spread of the disease to the organs, additional measures can be taken, and treatments to relax the patient is administered according to the course of the disease. (For some women, a combined therapy, called radio-chemotherapy, and radiotherapy process are initiated and the progression of the disease is attempted to be mitigated.)