Cervcial Cancer Care
Gynecologic Cancer Month is important landmark celebrated each September. Comprehensive Cancer Centers honors this month, and the people whose stories of courage and optimism help others overcome diseases and make early testing a priority.
Another important part of awareness raised during Gynecologic Cancer Month comes from increased understanding about women’s diseases themselves. One such cancer that all women are at risk for is Cervical Cancer. The team at Comprehensive Cancer shares the following information about cervical cancer to help women take better control of their health.
Overview on Cervical Cancer
Cancer occurs when cells in an area of the body grow abnormally. Cervical cancer is a cancer that begins in the cervix, the part of the uterus or womb that opens into the vagina. It is the part of the uterus that dilates and opens fully to allow a baby to pass into the birth canal. The normal cervix has two main types of cells: squamous (or flat) cells, which protect the outside of the cervix, and glandular cells which are mostly inside the cervix, and produce the fluid and mucus commonly seen during ovulation.
Cervical cancer is caused by abnormal changes in either of these cell types in the cervix and is the only gynecologic cancer that can be prevented by regular screening and preventive vaccination.
Cervical Cancer Symptoms
Cervical pre-cancers usually have no symptoms. That is why it is important to have a Pap test. A woman usually does not have any signs until the cells turn into cancer and invade the deepest parts of the cervix or other pelvic organs. Cervical cancer symptoms can include the following, if left detected:
- Vaginal discharge
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
- Vaginal odor
These symptoms may be caused by cancer or by other health problems. It is important for a woman to see her primary doctor if she is having any of these symptoms. If the symptoms suggest more serious problems, primary doctors will refer patients to Comprehensive Cancer Centers for a more complete diagnosis.
Medical Evaluation and Diagnoses
When a woman experiences concerning symptoms, a pelvic exam and a general physical should be performed. If the exam is abnormal, the woman might be advised to undergo an HPV test, a colposcopy (observing the cervix through a magnifying scope) and a biopsy, depending on the results of the colposcopy.
If cervical cancer is suspected or diagnosed, it is important to seek care first from an oncologist. These medical doctors, key members of Comprehensive’s team, have specialized training in treating cancers and manage care from diagnosis to completion of treatment and follow up care.
During cervical cancer treatment, patients come in contact with many health care professionals who make up your treatment team. Comprehensive’s team includes oncologists, radiation oncologist and possibly members of the research team that help all aspects of treatment, include with clinical research options, if necessary. They will work with each other and patients to provide the care that’s needed.
Cervical Cancer Surgical Staging
When cervical cancer is diagnosed, it is vital to determine if the cancer has spread. Your Comprehensive treatment team may do more tests to determine. Additionally, specific procedures during surgery may be performed to establish the extent of disease. This process is called staging. Staging helps to define the exact extent of your cancer and what treatment plan is best for you.
Cancer will be categorized into Stage I, II, III, or IV. The cancer will also be assigned a grade. Grade refers to how abnormal the cells appear under a microscope. Low-grade tumors, also called grade 1, have features that resemble normal cervical cells. In contrast, in high-grade tumors (grade 3) the microscopic appearance is greatly altered from normal.
Cervical Cancer Treatment and Side Effects
Cervical cancer may be treated with surgery, radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Depending on a number of factors, your treatment team at Comprehensive may recommend using a combination of treatments to treat your cancer.
Options Found in Clinical Research
There are many ongoing clinical research studies ongoing looking a new and better ways to treat cervical cancer, with Comprehensive Cancer a leader in research, with more than 170 studies active in a year. Many treatment options are available today because women diagnosed with cervical cancer were willing to participate in prior clinical trials. Should your treatment plan necessitate clinical research, the team will find the right plan or your needs.
Comprehensive Cancer Centers Can Help
Physicians at Comprehensive Cancer Centers provide a variety of treatment options including: chemotherapy, radiation therapy and clinical research for the treatment of cancer. To schedule an appointment with the team at Comprehensive, please call 702-952-3350.
The content is this post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.