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Cancer of Cervix

WHAT IS CERVICAL CANCER?

A common but treatable and preventable cancer of the cervix (the lower third of the uterus, which opens into the vagina).

AFFECTS

Women of all ages, but most common between ages 30 and 50.

SIGNS & SYMPTOMS

In the early, easily treatable stages:

  • No symptoms.

In later stages:

  • Unexplained vaginal bleeding.
  • Persistent vaginal discharge.
  • Pain and bleeding after intercourse.

In final stages:

  • Abdominal pain.
  • Leaking of faeces and urine through the vagina.
  • Appetite and weight loss.
  • Anemia.

CAUSES

Unknown.

RISK INCREASES WITH

  • Frequent sexual intercourse during the teen years.
  • Multiple sex partners.
  • Multiple pregnancies.
  • Recurrent vaginal infections (bacterial or viral, including genital herpes and genital warts).

HOW TO PREVENT

  • Avoid the risks listed above as much as possible.
  • Begin periodic pelvic examinations at the beginning of regular sexual activity, or latest by age 30.
  • Obtain regular Pap smear. Regular pelvic examinations and the Pap smear are very effective in detecting precancerous changes or cervical cancer in its symptom-free stage. Consult your doctor, about how often to be examined. Many charitable agencies may be offering a Pap smear at little or no cost.

DIAGNOSTIC MEASURES

  • Observation of symptoms especially unexplained vaginal bleeding.
  • History and physical exam by a doctor.
  • Laboratory studies, such as a Pap smear and biopsy.
  • Surgical diagnostic procedures, such as Conization of the cervix.

POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONS

If cervical cancer is not treated early, it spreads beyond the uterus to other body parts and is fatal.

PROBABLE OUTCOME

Usually curable if diagnosed before the tumor has spread.

TREATMENT

GENERAL MEASURES

  • Surgery to remove the cancerous area. During early stages, this may only involve a small area of the cervix, which preserves childbearing abilities. More advanced stages may require removal of the reproductive organs and other affected tissue.
  • Chemotherapy and radiation therapy in advanced cases.

MEDICATION

Medicine usually is not necessary for this disorder, if it is diagnosed and treated early. If radical surgery and additional treatment are required, one may be prescribed:

  • Anticancer drugs.
  • Pain relievers.

ACTIVITY

No restrictions.

DIET

No special diet.

CONTACT YOUR DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY, IF

  • You have persistent vaginal bleeding or other symptoms of cervical cancer.
  • You have not had a pelvic examination or Pap smear in at least last 1 year.
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