Cervical cancer was one of the major causes of death relatedto cancer almost to the beginning of the 1990s. By recommending regular Papsmears, doctors significantly decrease the number of deaths caused by cervicalcancer. Regular Pap smears can prevent cervical cancer in almost allcases.
What Causes Cervical Cancer
The most common cause of cervical cancer is Human Papillomavirusor HPV. This viral infection has proven to be necessary for the development ofcervical cancer, but there are still several more factors which can contribute,such as smoking, stress, birth control pills, multiple pregnancies, orinfections with Chlamydia or HIV. People using diethylstilbestrol (DES) andthose who have family members suffering from this disease are also consideredto be at higher risk of developing cervical cancer. It is estimated that about80% of sexually active people around the world are infected with HPV but most ofthem have no symptoms at all. Just in the US more than 6 million of people getinfected with HPV. Both men and women are equally exposed to this infection,but some 10% of the women develop the changes of the cervical lining which maylead to cervical cancer.
Symptoms and Subtypes
Early stages of cervical cancer might pass without anysymptoms whatsoever. Some patients might experience painful sensations during theintercourse, while others reported vaginal bleeding or vaginal discharge. Thereis also a possibility to experience tiredness, weight loss, poor appetite, swollenleg, bone fractures or pain in the back, pelvis or in the leg. If the cancermetastasized it can be found in the lungs or abdominal cavity or some otherpart of the body.
There are several subtypes of cervical cancer. The mostcommon is squamous cell carcinoma, and more than 80% of cervical cancer is thistype. Then, there are also: adenocarcinoma, adenosquamous, small cell andneuroendocrine carcinomas. Rarely, cervical changes may be non-carcinogenous,and they include: lymphoma and melanoma.
Staging and Prognosis of Cervical Cancer
This type of cancer may have 4 stages and some sub-stages. Ifcervical cancer gets detected in the IA stage, the prognosis is good. This isvery early stage, and some 95% of patients survive surgical treatment and livefor at least 5 years. Cancer in stage IB is usually treated with surgery, chemoand radiation therapies. 80 to 90% of these patients survive for 5 years.
Stage II of the cervical cancer has spread to the tissuesurrounding the uterus. The treatment is the same as for the stage IB, but five-yearsurvival rate is about 65 to 69%.
Stage III cervical cancer has spread even further and mayhave affected the kidneys. Chemotherapy and radiation are treatment options,and some 40% of the patients survive for 5 years after the diagnosis.
Stage IV is considered the last stage cervical cancer, when thecancer metastasized to other parts of the body. Treatments are usually radiationand chemotherapies, and 15 to 20% of the patients are expected to live for 5years of more.