Cervix is an organ on the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. Cervical cancer is characterized by uncontrolled growth of the cells lining the cervix. Most of the cervical cancers start in the cells of the transformation zone (the part where glandular and squamous cell meet in the cervix).
Symptoms of cervical cancer include the following symptoms
Causes of cervical cancer are related to Human papilloma viral infections. In some women, the HPV infection causes precancerous changes in the cells of the cervix. HPV Viruses produce two proteins known as E6 and E7 which turn off tumor suppressor genes. These can result in abnormal growth of cells lining the cervix.
Certain other factors such as HIV and smoking also increase the risk of cervical cancer in women.
The most common system used for staging cervical cancer is the TNM system.
T stands for Tumour. It is used to describe the size of the tumour. It also helps to determine whether tumour has grown into other parts of the organ or tissues around the organ. It is represented by a range of 1 to 4. The higher the number means the larger the tumour.
N stands for Lymph Nodes. It helps determine if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes around the organ. NX means the impact on lymph nodes cannot be determined. N0 means cancer hasn’t spread to nearby lymph nodes while N1, N2 and N3 means cancer has spread to lymph nodes. N1 to N3 also shows the range that how many lymph nodes are affected.
M stands for Metastasis. It is used to determine if the cancer has spread to other parts of body through blood or lymphatic system. MX means the metastasis cannot be determined; M0 means cancer has not spread to other body parts while M1 indicates that it has spread to other body parts.
Sometimes lowercase letters like a, b and c is used to divide the tumour, lymph nodes and metastasis into sub categories. Also lowercase “is” is used to denote carcinoma in situ. For e.g. Tis
In this stage the cancer is characterized as following
This stage of cancer is characterized by following findings:
This is an advanced stage of cancer, it has the following characteristics:
The cancer can be seen spreading to the lower part of the vagina or the walls of the pelvis. The cancer may be blocking the ureters (tubes which carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder) (T3).
It might or might not have not spread to any nearby lymph nodes (Any N).
It has not spread to any distant sites (M0).
This is the most advanced stage of cancer. It is characterized by following conditions
A number of factors contribute to increasing the chances of getting cervical cancer. These are called risk factors. Some of the most crucial risk factors are discussed here:
Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection
Long Term Use of Contraceptives
Weak Immune System
Weak Immune System
Having multiple full time pregnancies
Family history of cervical cancer
There are two types of cervical cancer
Screening helps in detecting cervical cancer. Most common guideline is to start the screening from the age of 21. The most popular screening tests are:
If your doctor suspects cervical cancer, he/she may inspect your cervix to collect samples of cells to perform a biopsy. The biopsy can be of two types:
The treatment for cervical cancer depends upon many factors, which includes the stage of cancer when it is diagnosed.
The most common treatment methodologies used are Surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy.
Cervical cancer often can be prevented with the help of vaccination and modern screening techniques such as Pap test that can detect precancerous changes in the cervix. Also, there are some vaccines such as Gardasil that can prevent HPV infections.
The other ways in which you can prevent cervical cancer are: