What causes cervical cancer? Are there any signs and symptoms?
It is typically caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), when sexually transmitted. An HPV infection can result in a pre-cancerous condition called dysplasia, which can progress into cervical cancer if undetected.
Look out for: vaginal bleeding after intercourse, bleeding between menstrual periods or, after menopause, if there is abnormal vaginal discharge tinged with blood or emitting a foul smell.
How is dysplasia diagnosed and treated?
Dysplasia refers to precancerous changes and is discovered through a Pap smear. If abnormal changes are found, the cervix is examined in a colposcopy procedure where biopsies may be taken – small pieces of tissue are removed and sent to a laboratory for further examination.
Precancerous changes and early cancer stages can be treated by removing abnormal tissue through a Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP) – using a hot wire loop to remove tissue – or through laser therapy.
For advanced cancer stages, a radical hysterectomy is often needed – removing the uterus and most of the surrounding tissue, lymph nodes and the upper part of the vagina. Radiation and chemotherapy can also be used before or after the surgery.
What should I do if I develop symptoms similar to those of cervical cancer?
Consult your doctor if you develop indications consistent with early cervical cancer, or if you would like more information about HPV vaccination and treatment options.
From The Finder, October 2016