The cervix is the lowermost area of the uterus, and the transformation of the cells of the cervix into cancerous cells, leads to the development of cervical cancer. It is caused by a few particular strains of human papilloma virus (HPV), which is transmitted to the female uterus via sexual intercourse.
Basically, cervical cancer occurs when the cells of the cervix acquire a genetic mutation. This mutation leads to the cells of the cervix to replicate exponentially, and uncontrollably. HPV plays a major role in this development of normal cells to cancer cells, but most women with the virus will not develop cancer.
In the early stages, cervical cancer doesn’t produce any significant signs and symptoms, however, it can lead to some of the following symptoms when the cancer has advanced:
- Pain during intercourse
- Pelvic pain
- Vaginal bleeding after intercourse
- Vaginal bleeding in between two menstrual periods
- Vaginal bleeding after menopause
- Watery, bloody vaginal discharge, that may be heavy, and foul smelling.
The key to combat cervical cancer effectively is early diagnosis. For diagnosis the following are some recommended screening tests that all women should undergo routinely:
- Pap smear
- HPV DNA test
To confirm the diagnosis, these are the tests that are commonly conducted:
- Punch biopsy
- Endocervical curettage
- Electrical wire loop biopsy
- Cone biopsy
Treatment modalities for cervical cancer can be listed as the following:
- Surgery – Simple hysterectomy, radical hysterectomy
- Radiation therapy