Cervical cancer treatment is focused on cancer of the cervix. Unlike in the case of other cancers, including breast cancer, lung cancer, and brain
Cervical cancer treatment is focused on cancer of the cervix. Unlike in the case of other cancers, including breast cancer, lung cancer, and brain cancer, the causes of cervical cancer are fairly known and in several countries, there are developed cervical cancer prevention procedures.
Still, despite cervical cancer prevention, many women suffer from cervical carcinoma. Cervical cancer statistics show that it is one of the most prevalent types of cancer and causes, especially in developing countries, the biggest share of cancer-related deaths among women. Cervical cancer treatment includes usually cancer surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
HPV and Cervical Cancer
The key to the successful cervical cancer prevention was the discovery of a connection between HPV and cervical cancer. HPV is a virus, which usually does not cause any symptoms and for this reason is carried by many people without them being aware of it. HPV causes up to 90% of cervical cancer cases, making it the biggest risk factor.
Vaccination for HPV is, therefore, the key to radical eradication of cervical carcinoma around the world. Growing cervical cancer awareness has definitely a positive influence in this matter. Nevertheless, calling the HPV vaccine a “vaccine for cervical cancer” is a little far-fetched, since there are cervical cancer patients who don’t have HPV.
There are 3 main types of treatment for cervical cancer:
• Cancer Surgery – in stage 0 cervical cancer treatment, stage 1 cervical cancer treatment, and stage 2 cervical cancer treatment, a cancer surgery such as one of the types of hysterectomy surgery may be effective in fighting with cervical carcinoma. Stage 3 cervical cancer treatment may include hysterectomy as a way of slowing down the development of cancer. In stage 4 cervical cancer treatment a surgery would not bring any positive result in most of the cases. Hysterectomy is a resection of womb together with cervix and other organs and tissues surrounding them. Its scope (total hysterectomy, partial hysterectomy etc) depends on stages of cervical cancer.
• Chemotherapy for Cervical Cancer – chemotherapy is often used as a supporting cervical cancer treatment after hysterectomy or other cancer surgery but may be also used as the first procedure in late cervical cancer stages. In chemotherapy, powerful drugs are used to destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy treatment is performed in sessions.
• Radiation Therapy for Cervical Cancer – radiation therapy (radiotherapy) is often used as a support for chemotherapy. In the treatment of cervical cancer with radiotherapy, radioactive elements are either emitted by a machine (external radiation therapy) or injected/swallowed (internal radiation therapy) in order to kill cancer cells of cervical carcinoma.
The second pillar of cervical cancer prevention is cervical cancer screening guidelines. Women above a certain age are asked to regularly take the test for cervical cancer in the form of PAP smear. Cervical cancer usually develops itself slowly, from noncancerous changes in the cervix – a PAP smear allows for cervical cancer prevention or at least for early diagnosis of cancer.
Treatment of cervical cancer should start with a proper preparation. The first step towards an effective cervical cancer treatment is to inform the medical team about other health issues you suffer from and medicines taken for them.
If your cervical cancer treatment includes a cancer surgery, you should quit smoking and drinking for a few weeks before your operation. Additionally, specialists responsible for your treatment for cervical cancer will ask you to fast for half a day or more before your cancer surgery.
Finally, it is worth arranging a transportation for yourself since you won’t be able to drive after cancer surgery and sessions of chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
The recovery from cervical cancer treatment depends on cervical cancer treatment options chosen by your doctor. If you had a cancer surgery such as hysterectomy, you will have to stay a few day in the hospital. Additionally, you will have a drainage tube as well as a catheter inserted into your body. Later on, back at home, you need to rest as much as possible but also to have walks and other less strenuous activities in order to prevent the formation of blood clots and give your body time to heal. You should be fine within a few weeks from the cancer surgery.
As for chemotherapy and radiation therapy as cervical cancer treatments, their recovery period is much longer and it may take months or even years to fully recover. However, both of them are usually outpatient procedures.
As all cancer treatments, cervical cancer treatment may cause some complications, even though the possibility of their occurrence is quite low.
Risks of hysterectomy surgery include:
• Damage to internal organs such as bowels, bladder or ureter
• Formation of blood clots
As for chemotherapy and radiation therapy, possible complications include:
• Damage to organs such as lungs
• Neurological problems
Unfortunately, despite its overall positive effect, there are some cervical cancer treatment side effects worth taking into consideration. These may include early menopause or problems with bladder and bowels in hysterectomy and memory, concentration problems, hair loss and weight loss in chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Success rates of treatment for cervical cancer depend on cervical cancer stages. As an example, stage 0 cervical cancer treatment has a stunning 93% 5-year survival rate, while stage 4 cervical cancer treatment has a 16% survival rate.