Regular pap tests i.e., Tests which look for any signs of cervical cancer should be conducted regularly so that it can be detected at its initial stage and can be treated accordingly.
What is Cervical Cancer?
Cancer is a disease in which cells in the body grow out of control. When these abnormal cells are present in the cervix, it is called cervical cancer, or cancer of the cervix.
Screening Prevents Cervical Cancer and Saves Lives:
The Pap test can find abnormal cells in the cervix. These cells may, over time, turn into cancer. This could take several years to happen. If the results of a Pap test show there are abnormal cells that could become cancerous, a woman can be treated. In most cases, this treatment prevents cervical cancer from developing.
Pap tests can also find cervical cancer early. When it is found early, the chance of being cured is very high. The most important thing you can do to avoid getting cervical cancer is to have regular Pap tests.
Any woman who has a cervix can get cervical cancer, especially if she or her sexual partner has had sex with several other partners. Most often, cervical cancer develops in women aged 40 or older. Abnormal cells in the cervix and cervical cancer don’t always cause symptoms, especially at first. That’s why getting tested for cervical cancer is important, even if there are no symptoms.
What is the Pap Test?
The Pap test, also called the Pap smear, is a cervical cancer screening test. It is not used to detect other kinds of cancer. It is done in a doctor’s office or a clinic.
During the test, the doctor or nurse uses a plastic or metal instrument, called a speculum, to widen the vagina. This helps to examine the vagina and the cervix, and collect a few cells from the cervix. These cells are placed on a slide and sent to a laboratory to be checked for abnormal cells.
Who Should Have a Pap Test?
Doctors recommend that women begin having regular Pap tests and pelvic exams at age 21, or within three years of the first time they have sexual intercourse – whichever happens first. After a woman has a Pap test each year for three years in a row, and test results show there are no problems, she can then get the Pap test once every 2-3 years.
Who Does Not Need to be Tested?
The only women who do not need regular Pap tests are:
How Do I Prepare for the Pap Test?
To prepare for the Pap test, doctors recommend that for two days before the test you should avoid:
Try to schedule your Pap test for a time when you are not having your menstrual period.
When Will I Get the Results?
It can take up to three weeks to receive Pap test results. Most results are normal. There are many reasons that Pap test results can be abnormal, and usually, it does not mean you have cancer.
Did you know that?
How can we prevent Cervical Cancer?
What can I do to protect myself from this killer disease?
Some forms of cancer such as cervical cancer can be prevented by vaccines. Cervical cancer is the second most common form of cancer that affects women. The vaccine that prevents cervical cancer is known as the human papilloma virus(HPV) vaccination. Let's take a look at a few things you should know about this vaccination.
What is HPV?
There are over a hundred types of HPV. While some of them affect the genital area and can cause abnormal tissue growth that leads to cervical cancer others can cause anal cancer, genital warts, skin warts, cancer of the head and neck and vaginal cancer.
When should you have the vaccination?
The human papilloma virus or HPV vaccination is most effective when administered to preteen and teenage girls. This vaccine protects them for the next ten years against the disease. One of the reasons, the HPV vaccination is given so early is that the virus can be spread easily by sexual activity. Having the vaccination early can protect them from a HPV infection. The vaccine is also said to be more effective when given to girls who have not yet been infected by a strain of HPV.
How is the vaccination given?
The HPV vaccination is given in the form of three injections spread over six months. The second dose is given two months after the first dose and the final dose is administered six months after the first dose. There is more than one name for the HPV vaccination. Gardasil and cervarix are the most common amongst these. Many doctors suggest no matter which one you choose, the same vaccination be used for all three doses.
How effective is the vaccination?
Along with protecting against cervical cancer, the HPV vaccine also protects women against vaginal, anal and oropharynx cancer. Some of the vaccines also protect against genital warts. However, the vaccination cannot be used to treat existing HPV infections and is less effective when given to women who have already been infected with a strain of the virus.
Is there anyone who should not have this vaccine?
The HPV vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women. Do not have the vaccination if you are already suffering from a severe illness. The vaccination is also not recommended for women who are allergic to yeast or latex.
What are the side effects of the HPV vaccination?
The HPV vaccination has minor side effects that may include mild soreness at the injection site, a headache or low fever. Some women may also feel dizzy or faint after the injection. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain are some of the other side effects associated with this vaccination.
Cervical cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in females. It is also one of the leading causes of death in women. Women in developed and developing countries, both are burdened alike from cervical cancer. Ineffective diagnosis, lack of awareness, neglect, ignorance, focus on other health issues, and insufficient attention to female health are the leading factors that are causing the graph to get steeper.
Cervical cancer can easily be detected in its early stages so that timely and appropriate treatment is possible. However, due to faulty and ill-equipped healthcare facilities, regular screening tests are not conducted. This leads to a delayed diagnosis and treatment, that aggravates the situation. Radical Hysterectomy is considered as the most important mode of treatment of cervical cancer. However, the clinical stage of cancer and its severity determine the plan of the treatment. It can either be only the surgery or a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation depending upon the situation.
Total Laparoscopic Radical Hysterectomy (TLRH) is a minimally invasive procedure that shows promising results in the early treatment of cervical cancer. It is a safe and effective procedure. The procedure is associated with faster recovery, less loss of blood, faster return of bowel function post operation, fewer abdominal wall infections, better cosmetic result, and reduced febrile morbidity. Thus, it is preferred for Abdominal Hysterectomy. However, it consumes more time during the procedure itself.
Total Laparoscopic Hysterectomy includes detaching the entire uterine cervix from the body through laparoscopy and suturing the vaginal cuff with its surrounding supporting structures. The uterus is then removed through the abdomen or through the vagina.
When is it needed?
Total Laparoscopic Radical Hysterectomy is required when there is an evidence of cervical cancer. It is determined before the procedure by a biopsy done by the gynecologist. This surgery removes the primary source of cancer. It is also determined whether cancer has spread to any other or surrounding tissue.
Hence, a Radical Hysterectomy removes the uterus, cervix, and extra tissue around the cervix. If the cells in this tissue are non-cancerous, it is called ‘clear margins’ which is a good sign regarding the success of the surgery.
Before the Procedure:
A series of tests might be required to plan the surgery. These include blood profile tests, ultrasound, CT scans, MRIs, Echocardiography, Pulmonary Function Tests, etc.
There are no large incisions in the abdomen because of the laparoscopic approach rather than the open surgery.
There is less amount of blood loss during this type of surgery.
There is less risk of infection.
There is reduced febrile morbidity.
There is less risk of adhesions. Adhesions refer to the sticking together of organs or tissues inside the body due to scarring.
Bowel function returns to normal quickly in this case.
There is less need for pain medication (analgesic) post-surgery.
Shorter time is required to be spent staying at the hospital.
There is a shorter recovery time involved and the patient is allowed to resume normal daily activities in a very short period of time, for example, generally within a month. However, heavy lifting should be avoided.
There is an increase in patient comfort.
Total Laparoscopic Radical Hysterectomy (TLRH) is the most favored method for the treatment of cervical cancer in women. It is minimally invasive and easier to manage to post the procedure.
Cervical cancer occurs when abnormal cells on the cervix grow out of control. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus that opens into the vagina. Cervical Cancer is one of the most common ailments that women suffer from, making it only more important to be taken seriously and treated immediately.
Most cervical cancer is caused by a virus called human papillomavirus, or HPV. You can get HPV by having sexual contact with someone who has it. There are many types of HPV virus. Not all types of HPV cause cervical cancer. Some of them cause genital warts, but other types may not cause any symptoms.
Most adults have been infected with HPV at some time. An infection may go away on its own. But sometimes it can lead to cervical cancer. That's why it's important for women to have regular screening. Screening can find changes in cervical cells before they turn into cancer. If you treat these cell changes, you may prevent cervical cancer.
Symptoms of Cervical Cancer may include:
Cervical cancer is the easiest gynecologic cancer to prevent, with regular screening tests and follow-up. Two screening tests can help prevent cervical cancer or find it early:
When to Get Screened
You should start getting regular Pap tests at age 21. The Pap test, which screens for cervical cancer, is one of the most reliable and effective cancer screening tests available. The Pap test is the best way to find cervical cell changes that can lead to cervical cancer. Regular Pap tests almost always show these cell changes before they turn into cancer. It's important to follow up with your doctor after any abnormal Pap test result so you can treat abnormal cell changes. This may help prevent cervical cancer.
In spite of being a fatal ailment, over the years various treatments have evolved that deal with this problem effectively. Some of them are:
1. Surgery: One of the effective and oft availed treatment to cure cervical cancer is surgery. Depending on the stage on which the disease is detected, doctors may suggest for a hysterectomy or removing the pelvic nymph nodes.
2. Chemotherapy: This has emerged as the most sought after way of treating any form of cancer. The abnormal growth of cells that triggers cancer in the first place is deterred in this method by administering drugs to destroy them.
A cervical smear test is often known as a Pap test and is done to establish the changes that might have occurred in cells of the cervix. A small sample of cells is taken from the surface of the cervix and is tested for any abnormalities. The sample is spread on a slide or in some cases mixed with a liquid fixative and studied under a microscope. It is one of the most popular methods to test the abnormalities in your cells and can pinpoint point cervical cancers.
About the test
A typical cervical smear or Pap test is done to identify the changes that have happened to the cells of the cervix. Diagnosing them early can be beneficial in many ways and can lower your chance of cervical cancer. PAP smear or a cervical smear is a screening test for cervical cancer. For other cases, once the results of the cell growth are identified it is safe to seek other tests and medical options for diagnosis.
The procedure of typical Pap smear
The test is mostly recommended when you do not have the periods as the blood can interfere with the results. Also, before taking the test discuss with your doctor about the medications you are taking and in case you are under any birth control pills. No other special preparations are needed for the Pap test. Feel free to discuss with your doctor about the impact the test will have on you or on the painlevels, etc.The test is done by inserting a speculum into the vagina, which spreads it further. Later, a cotton swab is inserted to get the samples of cells from your cervix. The cells from the vagina are also collected in some cases and tested accordingly.
The risks involved
There no chances of risks when you go for such tests. You might feel a bit of pressure in your vaginal region and may experience a small bleeding after the testing. However, this is extremely normal. Also, there is no pain involved. If you experience heavy period and blood loss, you might experience minor discomfort when the test is being done.
The final result
Once the test is done, the results would be available usually within a week. The results can be categorized into normal and abnormal. If your cells are normal and no abnormality is found then the condition is termed as a normal result. In the case of abnormality in the cell structure, then it requires further evaluation and diagnosis to rule out cancer.
Cervical cancer is one of the most common conditions to affect women in the world. However, with care, you and your doctor can easily prevent it from affecting you. Preventive measures include prevention of HPV and conduction of screening tests. Colposcopy is one such test that helps doctors determine your risk of cervical cancer.
What is a colposcopy?
A colposcopy is an examination of your cervix, vagina and vulva region for any abnormalities. A special device, colposcope, is used to examine the region. Your doctor may take a small tissue sample from the region as well. This is known as a biopsy. This tissue is then tested for cellular abnormalities. A colposcope can detect Cervical intra-epithelial Neoplasia or CIN. This is the name given to the most common cellular abnormality in the cervical region.
What is CIN?
HPV infections can damage the cells on the surface of your cervix. This damage is CIN. CIN can be of three primary stages, namely CIN 1, CIN 2 and CIN 3. The depth of cell abnormality in the cervix surface determines the stage of CIN. CIN 1 indicates minor damage to the surface that repairs itself over time without any treatment. However, CIN 2 and CIN 3 are more severe stages that require treatment, failing which it can progress to cervical cancer in the future.
Treating CIN 2 and CIN 3
Treatment for the condition depends on several important factors, such as the age of the patient, general medical condition and the severity of CIN. For CIN 2 and CIN 3, doctors try to remove the abnormal cells. Here are some surgical methods used for the removal of these cells.
• Loop electrosurgical excision procedure- A small electrical wire loop removes the affected cell from the cervix. In this procedure, doctors can also collect the removed tissue to perform further tests on it.
• Conization- A conical shape of the affected tissue is removed using this procedure. This was the most popular form of treating CIN before, but due to the higher post-operative risk related to the procedure, it is now only used in severe cases of the condition.
• Hysterectomy- This is the last resort, where the uterus is surgically removed. If CIN does not respond to the other forms of treatment, doctors will recommend undergoing a hysterectomy.
CIN has a propensity to recur after the completion of treatment. The chances of recurrence are highest within 2 years after treatment. Therefore, you would need to follow up with doctors regularly after undergoing treatment for the condition.
Minimally invasive surgery or laparoscopic surgery is increasingly becoming popular in all fields of surgery including gynecological oncology. Given its many advantages, it is easy to see why people prefer this form of surgery. The use of laparoscopy in the field of gynecological oncology began in the late 1980s. The first laparoscopic-assisted hysterectomy was performed in 1989.
Laparoscopy and Endometrial Cancer-
The endometrium refers to the lining of the uterus. Endometrial cancer is rare are usually affect women over the age of 55 years. A hysterectomy is one of the forms of treatment for this condition. If detected in its early stages, this hysterectomy may be performed laparoscopically. As compared to traditional surgery, this reduces the hospital stay required and is associated with fewer postoperative complications. Laparoscopy may also be used to restage patients who have already undergone a hysterectomy.
Laparoscopy and Cervical Cancer-
The lowermost part of the uterus is known as the cervix. A pap smear can help in the early detection of cervical cancer. This can be treated surgically in the form of a lymphadenectomy or a radical hysterectomy. One of the factors crucial to the management of this type of cancer is an evaluation of the lymph nodes. This is where laparoscopy is very useful. As in the case of endometrial cancer, laparoscopy may also be used for a hysterectomy procedure. A laparoscopic lymphadenectomy may also be performed to investigate the extent to which the cancer has spread. Advanced stages of cervical cancer can be treated with chemotherapy and radiation. In such cases, the role of laparoscopy may be limited to staging the patient before treatment.
Laparoscopy and Adnexal Masses-
Adnexal masses refer to ovarian abnormalities and development of masses in the fallopian tubes, uterus and other organs in the pelvic cavity. Laparoscopy is routinely used to treat benign Adnexal masses. It can also be used in the management of malignant adnexal masses. However, its role is less clearly defined in such cases. When using laparoscopic procedures to address adnexal masses, it is important to identify benign masses beforehand.
Laparoscopy and Uterine Cancer-
Laparoscopy can be used in a number of ways when it comes to the management and treatment of uterine cancer. These include staging apparent early-stage cancer, determining the extent of the disease and resectability potential and to reassess a patient in cases of recurrent cancer. A hand assisted laparoscopy may also be used to resect the disease in some cases.
Cervical cancer occurs when abnormal cells on your cervix, the lowermost part of your uterus that opens into the vagina, grow out of control. The cancer is treatable in the early stages when it hasn’t spread to other parts of your body. However, at later stages, it can be fatal.
The scariest part about cervical cancer is that its symptoms are so general that they are easily missed by most women.
Having said that, the common symptoms of cervical cancer include the following:
Causes of Cervical Cancer
Most cervical cancers are caused by a virus called human papilloma virus or HPV. This virus is spread by having unprotected sexual contact just like HIV/AIDS and genital herpes viruses.
There are many strains of the HPV and not all strains cause cervical cancer.
Diagnosis of Cervical Cancer
Since cervical cancer is spread sexually, it’s important for women to undergo Pap smear, a regular diagnostic test for early detection of this cancer. A pap smear is a cytological test in which cells from a woman’s cervix are taken and seen under a microscope. This test can identify changes in cervical cells before they become cancerous. If you observe these abnormal changes in cervical cells and treat them early, you are safe.
It’s recommended that sexually active women get a pelvic exam and a pap test every year to rule out malignancies in the cervix and nip this ‘female’ cancer in the bud.
Treatment of Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer has several stages, and the treatment for most stages includes:
Treatment for cervical cancer depends on how much the cancerous cells have spread. If it’s spread, your oncologist may suggest a combination of the above treatments.
Information and knowledge about this preventable yet lethal cancer should be disseminated among women, especially young women who have not become sexually active yet. And do remember that safe sexual practices like use of condoms and regular Pap tests will save you from this cancer.