What is cervical cancer?
Cervical cancer is the most common gynaecological cancer in developing and underdeveloped countries. Every year, 500,000 new cervical cancers are diagnosed in the world. Cervical cancer, which usually occurs around the age of 50, has also started to occur in young women in recent years. Although breast cancer ranks first in the most common cancer ranking in women, cervical cancer prevents breast cancer due to its life-threatening nature.
HPV (“Human Papilloma Viruses”) virus, which is responsible for almost all cervical cancers, does not show many symptoms and is highly contagious. Most women defeat the HPV virus they encounter at some point in their lives with the help of their own body defence system. Some HPV viruses come out of this defence system strong and cause cervical cancer. Taking precautions to protect against the disease-causing HPV virus and having regular health checks help the early detection of the disease and success in treatment.
What are the symptoms of cervical cancer?
Symptoms of cervical cancer may not manifest in the early period. The problem in the cervix may not be seen with the naked eye or on gynaecological examination. Changes can be noticed with vaginal discharge called Smear test or with instruments that enlarge the cervix called "colposcope", and the definitive diagnosis can be made by biopsy taken from the suspect area.
Symptoms of cervical cancer mostly occur in advanced stages of the disease. Symptoms such as bloody discharge, bleeding after sexual intercourse and irregular menstrual bleeding are among the symptoms of cervical cancer. In cases at late stages, the tumour can be noticed during examination. Urinary problems, defecation difficulties and leg pain occur as cervical cancer progresses.
Unexpected bleeding immediately after sexual intercourse, which is one of the symptoms of cervical cancer, or the next day, is called "post-coital bleeding". Post-coital haemorrhage is an important finding and may be an early symptom of cervical cancer.
Genital warts caused by HPV are not symptoms of cervical cancer. Because while some types of HPV cause genital warts, some types cause changes in the cells in the cervix in women. However, a detailed examination and HPV typing should be performed by noticing genital warts. It is examined by taking a sample from the vaginal swab or the wart itself, which is thought to be caused by the virus, to determine whether the person has HPV infection. According to the results of the examination, it can be determined whether there is HPV infection or not, and if there is, its type can be determined.
Cervical cancer symptoms can be summarized as follows;
- Fatigue, exhaustion
- Urine from the vagina and stool leakage
- Back pain
- Leg pain
- Loss of appetite,
- Pelvic pain
- Swollen feet
- Weight loss.
- Bone pain and fractures
How is cervical cancer diagnosed?
In addition to its early symptomatic feature, cervical cancer can be easily diagnosed with gynaecological examination and "Smear Test". In cervical cancer, which has an 80-85% success rate when caught and treated at an early stage, biopsy is also very important in the diagnosis of the disease and for an accurate treatment plan.
The first step in cervical cancer is to diagnose cancer and determine the stage of cancer. For this reason, a biopsy is taken from the cervix and cancer staging is performed. Cervical cancer staging is defined by the spread of cancer in the body. Staging is based on pelvic and rectal examination in addition to radiological study and other possible diagnostic tests. Apart from smear and biopsy, these tests are used in the diagnosis of cervical cancer;
What's a Smear test?
Smear test is a highly simple and painless cancer screening method. It is very important for women to have a smear test once a year to protect themselves from cervical cancer. Smear test is performed in two ways. In the classical method, the received flow is applied on a glass and sent to the laboratory after it is detected with a special spray. In the second way, the material taken is discharged into a special liquid in a bottle. In this way, it is sent to the laboratory and microscopic examination is performed by passing through certain stages there.
All women over the age of 21 who have begun active sexual life should have a smear test once a year. If the active sex life started before this age, it is recommended to perform a smear test within the first three years from the age of onset. Tests should not be disrupted during menopause. If the patient has at least three normal smear test results after the age of 65, smear tests can be terminated with the knowledge of his/her doctor. In addition, if a suspicious condition is observed in the smear test, the test can be performed at more frequent intervals or further examination can be performed.
Colposcopy: It is the enlargement and examination of the epithelium laying the cervix by looking at the cervix with a special device similar to binoculars. Cervical cancer is not an event that starts on a day. The deterioration that starts in the cells increases over time and gradually. It is possible to follow these changes by seeing them with colposcope examination. If the colposcopy examination is evaluated together with the smear, the error rate decreases significantly.
These tests are also used in the diagnosis and staging of cervical cancer;
- Rectovaginal examination; in this test, the anus and vaginal area are examined simultaneously. It is a simple pelvic examination that can be performed under office conditions. It is understood whether the cancer has spread out of the cervix.
- CT or BAT scanning; CT scanning, also called computed tomography or computed axial tomography, starts with the ingestion or intravenous injection of a radiopaque substance. This substance provides better visualization of the internal organs in x-rays.
- MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scanning; This test uses magnetic radio waves and a computer to imaging internal organs and tissues.
- PET (Positromal Emission Tomography) scanning; Radioactive glucose is injected into the vein and the body regions where glucose is used at a high rate are determined in pet. Cancer cells are more active than normal cells and use more glucose. Cancer cells appear brighter in this test.
In addition, lung x-ray and blood count may be requested to determine the spread of cancer to the breasts or lungs.
How is cervical cancer treated?
Genital warts caused by HPV virus infection can be treated by burning, freezing, or with the help of surgical or local creams. The disappearance of the wart as a result of this treatment does not mean that it will not appear again. In some people, the wart does not recur after treatment; in others, wart formation can be observed at frequent intervals. Treatment should be repeated every time a new wart develops. The risk of recurrence of genital warts is related to how strong the immune system is or not. In HPV virus infections, it is known that the person can spontaneously remove the virus from the body without treatment.
Treatment of cervical cancer is carried out by 4 different methods. These are surgical intervention, radiotherapy, hormone therapy and chemotherapy. If the virus has not passed into the depth of the tissue, the area in the cervix can be determined by colposcopy. With the surgical removal of the area, the area that can become cancerous is eliminated and a high rate of recovery is achieved in the patient. With a simple surgical procedure, the patient can be discharged on the same day. If the cancer has become invasive, that is, it has gone deep into the tissue, there are two treatment options. In this case, "radical hysterectomy", which is a comprehensive and difficult surgery that will take a long time, is performed. At the same time, cancer cells are removed because they hold the lymph nodes in the pelvic region. The alternative is chemo-radiotherapy; the cancer cells in that region are sensitized to radiation with the chemotherapy drug, then radiotherapy is applied to the patient and follow-up is continued. If it is in the late stage, survival rates are certain regardless of surgery or chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
What should be considered after Stomach cancer treatment?
Treatment of cervical cancer depends on the stage of the disease. If there is suitability for operation in the early stage, the fertility of the patients is not affected. With the developing technology, there is a chance of storing eggs before surgery and having children after surgery with embryo freezing.
If there are patients who want to have children after treatment, this doctor should be consulted and treatment options should be re-evaluated. Sexual intercourse and swimming are not recommended between 4 and 6 weeks after the operation. In addition, postoperative vaginal bleeding is a natural condition. However, if there is intensive bleeding, this should be reported to the doctor. If radiotherapy is seen after the operation, radiotherapy may also have some effects. Frequent urination, frequent stooling, abdominal discomfort, bloating, fatigue can be counted among these effects. Women in the menstrual period may develop menopause after chemotherapy or radiotherapy. This may affect the sexual life. This situation can also be evaluated by the doctor. After the treatment, the doctor should be checked every 3 months for the first two years. These controls should be performed every 6 months after 3 years and once a year after 5 years. At the same time, smear test should be taken every year.
Why should I be in the Memorial Health Group for the treatment of gastric cancer?
Memorial Health Group Experts offer comprehensive care in the treatment of cervical cancer. The Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, the Centre for Gynaecological Oncology, the Centre for Oncology, the Department of Pathology, the Department of Nuclear Medicine, the Department of Psychology and the Department of Nutrition and Diet together approach people with cervical cancer with a multidisciplinary perspective. Memorial Health Group experts also have extensive experience in the diagnosis and treatment of cervical cancer and other cancers. Being treated here provides access to the most advanced diagnostic and therapeutic techniques. The most effective treatment is applied by experts. The most modern technologies are used in diagnosis and treatment.