Occurring in the cells of the cervix, cervical cancer affects the lowest section of the uterus connecting to the vagina. In most cases, human papillomavirus plays a huge role in the development of this cancer.
While the immune system can prevent the virus from harming the body, it may be weak for some women that the virus can survive for years.
To reduce one’s risk of developing it, women are advised to have screening tests and get an anti-HPV infection vaccine.
Several risk factors include,
- Having many sexual partners increases one’s chance to contacting HPV
- Having sex at an early age
- A weak immune system
- Having sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS, syphilis and chlamydia,
There are no symptoms in the early stage of the disease. But for more advanced cervical cancer, the signs and symptoms include,
- Bloody or watery vaginal discharge, having either a foul odor or heavy
- Pain or pelvic pain during intercourse
- Bleeding after vaginal intercourse after menopause or between periods
To diagnose cancer, a doctor performs a colposcopy. It is a simple procedure in which the medical practitioner will take a look at the cervix.
This exam, which is a lot like a pap smear, usually takes between 5 and 10 minutes.
You will have a colposcopy if the doctor finds abnormal results on the Pap test.
Treatment and Rehabilitation
In the following are the treatment options for cervical cancer based on its stage.
Stage 0 (Carcinoma in Situ): At this stage, the treatment may include laser surgery, loop electrosurgical excision procedure or cold-knife conization. For women who do not want to have children, they get a hysterectomy. And for women who cannot have a surgical procedure, they have internal radiation therapy.
- Total hysterectomy
- Radical trachelectomy
- Internal radiation therapy
Stages IB and IIA
- Radical hysterectomy and then pelvic lymph nodes removal with or without pelvis’ radiation therapy along with chemotherapy
- Radiation therapy with chemotherapy
- Radiation therapy only
- Radical trachelectomy
- Chemotherapy and then surgery
Stages IIB, III, and IVA
- Removal of pelvic lymph nodes plus radiation therapy can include chemotherapy
- Internal radiation therapy
- Radiation therapy and chemotherapy
- Targeted therapy and chemotherapy
- Chemotherapy as palliative therapy
- Radiation therapy as palliative therapy
For some patients looking for alternative treatments, they get MMJ recommendations from medical marijuana doctors.
Certain studies had it that cannabinoids have many health benefits: can reduce chemo-induced nausea and vomiting. Initial research also revealed that it could stop the growth and spread of cancer cells. MMJ may be effective when combined with another treatment approach.
CLHF homes with medical professionals can develop a rehabilitation plan that will be implemented based on the cancer stage of the patient, but it may include reproductive system recovery and nutrition.
First, an oncology physiotherapist will help in assessing, treating and guiding a patient to a rehabilitation program that can address specific issues including,
- Assessment of the patient’s risk of lymphoedema, including ongoing monitoring and education
- Discussing of body composition management especially among women who gained weight following cancer treatment
- Assessing and activating the strength, power and endurance of the pelvic floor muscles
- Improving the strength of the core and stabilizing muscles around the pelvis and abdominals
- Coping and management strategies for fatigue
- Muscle mass and strength rebuilding
By giving cancer patients the direction and the guidance to exercise during and after treatment, they can rebuild their bodies and confidence as well as improve their well-being.
Cervical cancer can now be prevented. Thanks to the discovery of Harald zur Hausen that human papillomavirus (HPV) caused cervical cancer, which is the second most prevalent cancer among women.
Because of his discovery, there has now been a characterization of the history of an HPV infection as well as an understanding of HPV-induced carcinogenesis mechanisms.
Most importantly, the discovery also led to the advancement in technologies, including prophylactic vaccines, such as HPV vaccines, which are given to females between 9-26 years old.
- If you are in the risk zone, you should have prophylactic diagnostics at least once a year.
- You should also have Pap tests, which can detect any abnormalities, such as precancerous conditions. If there are, they will be monitored or treated to prevent cancer. Many organizations are suggesting that women should have routine tests starting 21 years of age, and then have it repeated every few years,
- Smoking increases your risks of developing cervical cancer. Don’t smoke or quit it if you were smoking.
- Practice safe sex all the time. Use a condom, delay intercourse or have only a few sexual partners to reduce your risk of cancer:
Living with cervical cancer isn’t easy, but patients can have an improved life quality with the right treatment approach and rehabilitation plan during and after the surgery or another treatment.
Do you have a loved one that has or has survived cervical cancer? Which among those treatment approaches do you think is most effective to eradicate cervical cancer? Tell us in the comments.