Women, mainly aged between 25 and 59 years, are in a period that specialists qualify “at risk” for developing cervical cancer. Therefore raising awareness as much as possible about this disease is of greatest importance.
1- What is the anatomy and function of the uterus and the cervix?
From the anatomical point of view, the uterus is composed of two main parts: the body and neck. The body has three layers: the myometrium, consisting of muscle tissue that makes up most of the uterine mass; the endometrium or mucous layer where periodic changes that end each month with menstruation take place; and the serosa layer coating the outside myometrium. The cervix consists of connective and epithelial tissue (site where settle most common cancers in this organ) , which opens at the top of the vagina through the external opening.
2- Why is the cervix susceptible to infection and the appearance of benign and malignant tumors?
As the cervix meets the top of the vagina, it is exposed to acquire a wide range of infections due to sexual intercourse with infected persons, besides having a high number of manipulations related to different procedures inside the uterus, such as placement of intrauterine devices, curettage for various reasons, childbirth, just to mention a few. The most common uterine fibroid tumor is benign, with excess estrogen as a possible causative factor. The most common malignant tumor of the uterus is the cervical cancer, with among others, infection with human papilloma virus as the main factor of its appearance.
3- Is it possible to prevent cervical cancer?
The cervical cancer prevention is possible as this disease is fundamentally linked to sexual behavior, and acquiring sexually transmitted diseases (HPV infection).
4- As cervical cancer usually grows slowly over a period of time, without symptoms that betray their presence, is it possible to diagnose it in its early stages? What procedures are performed for diagnosis?
Effectively, cervical cancer has a long period of evolution. Yes, it is possible to diagnose in its early stages. The ideal method for detection in the early stages is cytological (Pap smear), supplemented test, if necessary, by biopsy.
5- Is the cytological test painful? For who is it indicated and at what ages? What is the recommended period for re-examinations?
Taking a Pap smear is not painful. Women should start getting Pap test after 25 years if sexually active and then repeat it every three years.
6- In more advanced stages, what are the signs and symptoms that occur?
The most frequent symptoms are bleeding from the vagina, secretion of a bloody stench flow and pain in the pelvic area.
7- In dependence on the stage of the cancer, what treatments are used? Is it curable?
When diagnosed in early stages, ie stage 0 and 1, you can ensure virtually 100% cure. In more advanced stages, survivals of several years are achievable. However, depending on the stage that has been diagnosed, there are different methods of treatment: electrofulguration, cryosurgery, different surgical techniques and radiotherapy.
8- Can the treatment be postponed if detected during the pregnancy? Does labor have to be done in all cases by Caesarean section?
This depends on the age of the pregnancy and the stage of the cancer. In early stages, a caesarean section is not necessary.