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Cervical cancer - causes, symptoms, stages, treatment, age

Cervical cancer is a dangerous condition most often caused by HPV infection.

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Cervical cancer - causes, symptoms, stages, treatment, age
29 April, 2024
31 min
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Cervical cancer detected at an early stage is curable in about 99% of cases. Despite this, more than half of Polish women diagnosed with this cancer do not survive. This is most often due to too late detection of this dangerous condition.

This might indicate, that prevention of cervical cancer is complicated and expensive. However, this is not the case. Any woman between the ages of 25 and 59 who has not had a cervical cancer screening in the last three years can have one free of charge at most obstetrics-gynaecology clinics. 

See below for more information on this programme, as well as the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and prognosis of cervical cancer.

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From this article you will learn:

  • What cervical cancer is and how to prevent it
  • .
  • What are the causes and symptoms of cervical cancer
  • .
  • How is cervical cancer diagnosed and treated
  • .
  • What is the prognosis after cervical cancer
  • .

What is cervical cancer?

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The cervix is the part of the female reproductive systemand that connects the uterine body to the vagina. Cervical cancer develops within the cervix. Cancer occurs when cells start to grow and divide uncontrollably. Most commonly, long-term HPV infection leads to cervical cancer.

What are the types of cervical cancer?

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The cervix consists of two parts and is covered by two types of cells - glandular and squamous cells. Therefore, there are two basic types of cervical cancer.

  • Squamous cell carcinoma of the cervix. It accounts for approximately 90% of all cases of cervical cancer. This cancer develops in the outer part of the cervix.
  • The cervix is the most common type of cancer.
  • Tumour carcinoma. This is a cancer of the cervix that develops from mucus-producing glandular cells.

Rarely, we may encounter mixed cancers, which include features of both of the above-mentioned cancers. Very occasionally (less than 1% of cases), types of cancer such as melanoma or lymphoma can also develop in the cervix.

Related cancers are also found in the cervix.

What does cervical cancer look like?

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Cervical cancer is a cancerous lesion that can be seen within the cervix. The graphic below shows what this cancer can look like.

Stages of cervical cancer - FIGO classification

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At the end of 2018, the International Federation of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (FIGO)and updated the cervical cancer staging classification. What do the different stages of the disease indicate ?

  • Stage I. Neoplasm strictly confined to the cervix.
  • Stage I.
  • Stage II. Cancerous infiltration extends beyond the cervix and uterus. However, it does not involve the pelvic wall, lower vagina and nearby lymph nodes.
  • Stage II.
  • Stage III. The cancer has spread to the lower part of the vagina or pelvic wall. It may block the ureters. The cancer may or may not have taken over nearby lymph nodes.
  • .
  • Stage IV. The cancer metastasises to organs outside the pelvis such as the lungs, bones or lymph nodes.
  • .

How long does it take to develop cervical cancer?

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Cervical cancer develops very slowlyand. For women with a properly working immune system, the process can take up to 15-20 years. In contrast, in ladies with lower immunity, cancer will take 5-10 years to develop. Untreated infection with, for example, HIV accelerates the development of cervical cancer.

Pre-cancerous condition of the cervix - what is it?

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Cervical pre-cancerous conditions are changesand in cells that indicate a greater likelihood of developing cancer. These are not yet cancer, but if left untreated they can develop into it. Most often such a condition lasts about 10 years, but in some cases it can be shorter.

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Most often pre-cancerous conditions occur in the transformation zone. In this area, glandular cells are transformed into squamous cells.

Preventive care

Prevention of cervical cancer

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Prevention of cervical cancer is extremely important - the disease is usually curable in its early stagesand. The most common cause of cervical cancer is infection with a virus called human papillomavirus (HPV). It is responsible for 95%and of cases of this disease. 

Vaccination for HPV

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Vaccination against HPV  - known as the "silent killer" - can prevent the development of cervical cancer. The vaccine is highly effective in preventing oncogenic infections such as HPV-16 and HPV-18. These are the ones - about 70%and - responsible for cervical cancer. 

The HPV vaccination  is recommended for girls aged 11-12 years, but can be given from the age of nine. The vaccine is also worth giving to older people, but not after the age of 26. The exception to this is for those aged 27-45 who, after talking to their doctor (about the risks but also the possible benefits), have determined that they want to opt for the vaccination.

  • For people under 15 years of age, it is recommended to receive two doses given 6-12 months apart. 
  • The vaccine should be administered at least once a year.
  • Elderly people should prepare for a series of three "doses" of the vaccine.
  • The vaccine should be administered at an interval of 6-12 months.
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Please note!

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Remember that the HPV vaccine prevents new infections, not treats existing infections. Therefore, it should be administered before contact with HPV. 

Cytological examinations

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Systematic cytological examinations make it possible to detect precancerous lesions and cancers in their early stages. Studies suggest, that up to 2%and of all cytology tests show abnormalities and require additional diagnostics.

Free cytology - programme details

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Every woman aged 25-59 who has not had a cytology screening test for three years has the opportunity to have one on the National Health Service. The aim of the programme is to reduce the mortality rate of women from cervical cancer.

Where can the test be performed?

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  • The test can be carried out at any obstetric-gynaecological clinic that has a contract with the National Health Service. 
  • The test can be carried out at any clinic that has a contract with the National Health Service.
  • You can also go for the test at some outpatient clinics - but remember to check whether the clinic you choose participates in the Cervical Cancer Prevention Programme. 
  • .
  • You do not need a referral for the examination.
  • .

How to prepare for the test?

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  • Do not present during menstruation (period).
  • Do not present during menstruation.
  • Preferably, you should report more than 4 days after the last day of your menstruation and no less than 4 days before the start of your period.
  • Preferably, you should report more than 4 days after the last day of your period and no less than 4 days before the start of your period.
  • For 4 days before the test, abstain from vaginal medication.
  • .
  • Make sure it has been at least 24 hours since your last gynaecological examination or ultrasound.
  • .
  • Bring your identity card with you.
  • .

What can you expect after the examination?

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  • If the results of your examination do not show abnormalities, your doctor will sign you up for a repeat preventive examination in 3 years. 
  • If there are no abnormalities, your doctor will sign you up for a repeat preventive examination in 3 years.
  • When warranted (e.g. in HIV-infected people), the examination can be performed in 12 months. 
  • Detection of dysplastic lesions will result in your gynaecologist referring you for additional diagnostics. 
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Note!

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Take advantage of this programme and encourage your loved ones to do the same. It costs nothing and you could save your life or that of a family member. Don't delay and go for a check-up.

What behaviours to avoid?

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Beyond vaccination and regular examinations, we can do more to prevent cervical cancer.

We can do more to prevent cervical cancer.

Actions that can preventcervical cancer:and

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  • Delaying the first sexual intercourse until the late teenage years.
  • Restricting the number of sexual partners.
  • Restricting the number of sexual partners.
  • Applying barrier protection (e.g., condoms) during intercourse.
  • Preventing sex.
  • Avoiding sex with people who have had multiple sexual partners.
  • .
  • Stopping smoking cigarettes.
  • .
  • Confirming that your partner is not a carrier of sexually transmitted diseases.
  • .

Women who used an IUD had a lower risk of cervical cancer than ladies who took part in the study but did not use oneand. What's more, this effect was seen even in ladies who had used the IUD for less than a year, and its removal did not result in a recurrence of increased risk. 

Tip

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Remember that the use of the IUD has its advantages as well as disadvantages. Therefore, before starting to use this method of contraception, you should consult your doctor.

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Symptoms of cervical cancer

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Cervical cancer develops 'silently' and does not give any symptoms for a long time. Therefore, its detection is very difficult and the first symptoms appear only after the cancer has spread in the body. 

Symptomsand of cervical cancer in its early stages:

  • vaginal bleeding after intercourse,
  • .
  • pelvic pain,
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  • a watery vaginal discharge having a strong, usually unpleasant odour,
  • .
  • presence of blood in vaginal discharge,
  • presence of blood in vaginal discharge.
  • vaginal bleeding between periods
  • .
  • longer and more heavy menstrual periods than normal,
  • vaginal bleeding between periods
  • .
  • vaginal bleeding after menopause,
  • .
  • pain during sex,
  • .

When cervical cancer progresses to an advanced stage, other symptoms will be noticed.

Symptoms of cervical cancer at an advanced stage:

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  • swelling of the legs,
  • .
  • difficulty, painful defecation or bleeding from the rectum during defecation,
  • difficulty, painful defecation or bleeding from the rectum during defecation.
  • dull back pain,
  • dull back pain.
  • blood in urineand,
  • .
  • loss of appetite,
  • .
  • bone pains,
  • .
  • unexplained weight loss,
  • .
  • abdominal pains,
  • .
  • feeling of constant fatigue,
  • .

Important!

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The above-mentioned symptoms can also be indicative of many other diseases. Remember that only a doctor can make a correct diagnosis and assess what is wrong with you.

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Causes of cervical cancer

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The main cause of cervical cancer is long-term infection with HPV (human papilloma virus)and. Infection can occur during sex or direct skin contact with an infected person. It is estimated that up to 80% of women and men will be infected with HPV at least once in their lifetime. Most often, however, the infection is mild. 

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In addition to HPV, there are several other factors leading to cervical cancer.

Main causes of cervical cancer:

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  • early onset of sexual activity,
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  • many years of smoking,
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  • age (risk of cervical cancer is higher in seniors),
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  • high number of births,
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  • many sexual partners,
  • .

Rarer factors leading to cervical cancer:

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  • long-term use of hormonal contraceptives,
  • .
  • inappropriate diet (rich in red meat and poor in fruit and vegetables),
  • inappropriate diet (rich in red meat and poor in fruit and vegetables).
  • getting pregnant before the age of 20and,
  • .
  • HIV infection,
  • .
  • factors  socioeconomic - people who have difficult access to screening are more likely to get cervical cancer,
  • .
  • taking DES (diethylstilbestrol),
  • .
  • immunocompromised conditions, such as immunosuppression due to organ transplantation,
  • .
  • infection with sexually transmitted diseases sexually transmitted diseases other than HPV (herpes virus HSV-2, chlamydia).
  • .
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Remember!

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Having one or even several risk factors does not mean that you will get cervical cancer. The aforementioned causes increase the likelihood of cancer, but they will never make you definitely get it.

Remember!

Is cervical cancer hereditary?

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Cervical cancer is not hereditary, but if women in your immediate family have had it, your risk of contracting the disease is higher. 

In fact, experts suggest that it is possible to inherit immune system disordersand that limit the body's ability to fight HPV infection. 

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The genetic link to the occurrence of cervical cancer is rare. Rather, we are talking about a certain predisposition to developing this cancer.
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Dr Witold Tomaszewski.

Witold Tomaszewskidoctor of medical sciences

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Can you get infected cervical cancer?

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It is not possible to contract cervical cancer, however, it is possible to contract the HPV virus that causes this cancer. HPVand can also lead to cancer of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus, and back of the throat. 

Diagnosis of cervical cancer

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Early diagnosis of cervical cancer can save lives. That is why it is very important to know the diagnostic tests that lead to it.

What tests can detect cervical cancer?

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There are many tests used to diagnose cervical cancerand. More often than not, however, your doctor will need several of these to make a diagnosis. The specialist will consider the following factors when selecting tests:

  • the suspected type of cancer,
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  • symptoms,
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  • the patient's age and general health,
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  • results of previous investigations,
  • .

Two-handed gynaecological examination

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The doctor will check all abnormal changes in the cervix, ovaries, vagina and nearby organs. He or she first performs a visual inspection of the exterior (checking for changes in the vulva) and then uses a speculum (an instrument that allows the vaginal walls to be opened) to examine the cervix. 

Part of the organ is not clearly visible, so the doctor inserts 2 fingers of one hand into the vagina and gently presses on the abdomen with the other. This allows him to feel the ovaries and the uterus. Most often the examination takes a few minutes to several minutes and takes place in the doctor's office.

Cytology

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The doctor will gently scrape the outside and inside of the cervix to take samples of cells for examination. A traditional cytology test can be difficult to read (the cells are usually covered in mucus or blood), which is why liquid-based cytology is most commonly used in the diagnosis of cervical cancer.

The test is a liquid-based cytology.

In this test, a thin layer of cells is first cleared of blood and mucus. It is then preserved, so that other, additional tests can be performed at the same time (e.g. for HPV).

Important!

If you feel uncomfortable, the test can be stopped at any time. You just need to inform your doctor.

HPV test

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The HPV test, like cytology, is performed on a sample of cells from the cervix. In most cases, the doctor will perform this test at the same time as the cytology. However, it should be noted that many people have HPV and do not have cervical cancer. Therefore, this test is not sufficient to make a diagnosis.

What do the resultsof the HPV test mean?and

  • Negative result. No high-risk HPV virus found.
  • Negative result.
  • Positive result. A high-risk HPV virus has been detected in your body. Your doctor will certainly recommend additional diagnostics.
  • .

The HPV test can be carried out at your home. A few days after purchasing the intake kit at https://www.testhpv.pl, you will receive the appropriate tools. Once you send back your test, you will receive the result in no more than eight working days.

Colposcopy

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Colposcopy is an examination carried out using a suitable instrument - a colposcope. This diagnosis can be compared to a speculum examination. The colposcope allows the cells of the cervix and vagina to be magnified. This gives the doctor an illuminated and magnified view of the vaginal and cervical tissues.

Most often the examination is carried out in the doctor's office and has no side effects. Colposcopy can be performed during pregnancy.

Colposcopy can be performed during pregnancy.

Biopsy

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Biopsy is an examination during which a small amount of tissue is taken for examination under a microscope. These examinations may indicate cancer, but only a biopsy can confirm it. If the cancerous lesion is small, it is possible to remove it completely during the examination itself.

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In other cases, a referral to a gynaecologist-oncologist is necessary. This is a specialist who treats tumours of the female reproductive system. It is not uncommon for this doctor to recommend additional tests to determine whether the cancer has spread beyond the cervix.

The doctor will also recommend additional tests to determine whether the cancer has spread beyond the cervix.

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Note!

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After the biopsy, bleeding or discharge may occur. Some women also experience pain that resembles menstrual cramps.

Precaution!

Other tests used in the diagnosis of cervical cancer:

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  • Rentgen. Allows assessment of kidney and bladder conditions.
  • Tomography.
  • Computed tomography (CT or CAT). Allows the size of the tumour to be determined.
  • CT.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This test also allows the size of the tumour to be assessed.
  • .
  • Fullandblood count. Basic blood test that measures, among other things, the number of white and red blood cells, as well as the amount of haemoglobin in red blood cells.
  • Tumour biomarker testing. A diagnostic that allows tumour-specific factors to be identified.
  • Cystoscopy. A test that allows the doctor to see the inside of the bladder and urethra when there is a risk of metastasis.
  • Cystoscopy.
  • Sigmoidoscopy. Examination carried out for the same purpose as the previous one, but allowing the condition of the colon and rectum to be determined.
  • Sigmoidoscopy.

Is cervical cancer visible on ultrasound?

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For many years ultrasound was not used to diagnose cervical cancer. Recent studiesand, however, suggest, that this diagnostic is very promising and may be helpful in assessing cancerand. It should be noted that these are preliminary data that need to be confirmed.

Does cervical cancer hurt?

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In the early stages of the disease, it does not. However, over time, in more advanced stages, when the cancer has spread, it is possible to feel painand in the pelvis or after intercourse. 

Cervical cancer - treatment

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After a diagnosis of cervical cancer, your doctor will talk to you about treatment optionsand. When choosing the best option, in addition to the characteristics of your cancer, your age, general health, and personal preferences will be taken into account.

Who treats cervical cancer?

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The team responsible for treating cervical cancer may consist of several specialistsand.

  • Gynaecologist. A specialist who treats diseases of the female reproductive system.
  • Gynaecologist.
  • Gynaecologist-oncologist. Doctor specialising in cancers of the female reproductive system.
  • .
  • Radiologist-oncologist. Doctor who can perform radiotherapy.
  • .
  • Clinical oncologist. A specialist who uses chemotherapy and other medical agents to treat cancer.
  • Clinical oncologist.

There will also be additional people involved in the care of a person with cervical cancer: nurses, psychologists, physiotherapists and other health professionals.

The following will be involved in the care of a person with cervical cancer.

Treatment types

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Treatment of cervical cancer usually involves five solutions. Depending on the stage and type of cancer, sometimes more than one type of treatment is required.

Surgical treatment

Surgical operation

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Early-stage cervical cancer is most often treated with surgeryand. Once you have decided on this type of treatment, you will need to choose surgery. The three main options include:

  • Removal of the cancer itself. If the cervical cancer is very small, it may be possible to remove it with a cone biopsy. The rest of the cervix remains intact after the operation and the patient has the option of becoming pregnant later.
  • .
  • Cervical removal (trachelectomy). A procedure that removes the cervix along with some of the tissues that surround it. Trachelectomy works only in cases of early stage cancer. In this case, the patient will also be able to become a mum at the end of the treatment.
  • .
  • Removal of the cervix and uterus (hysterectomy). An operation that removes the cervix, uterus, part of the vagina, and nearby lymph nodes. It is also performed at an early stage, but slightly later than the previous options. After such surgery, the patient will not be able to become pregnant.
  • .

Another option is the so-called minimally invasive hysterectomy. The operation involves several small incisions in the abdominal cavity instead of one large one. Patients who have undergone such surgery recover more quickly. However, it should be noted that some studies have shown that minimally invasive hysterectomy is less effective than primary surgery. 

Radiotherapy

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Radiotherapy involves the use of high-energy X-rays or other particles to destroy the tumourand. In the early stages of cervical cancer, a combination of external beam radiotherapy and weekly chemotherapy is most commonly used. This makes it possible to increase the effectiveness of radiotherapy. This method of treatment is associated with a number of side effects.

Side effectsof radiotherapyand for cervical cancer:

  • fatigue,
  • .
  • skin lesions,
  • .
  • hair loss,
  • .
  • nausea,
  • .
  • vomiting,
  • .
  • memory problems,
  • .
  • intestinal obstruction,
  • .

Adverse effects resolve after completion of radiotherapy. However, patients who have received external beam radiotherapy lose the ability to become pregnant. In contrast, women whose ovaries have not been surgically removed from the pelvis will enter menopause (if they have not already started it).

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Did you know that?

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Sexual activity can be resumed after radiotherapy within a few weeks of its completion.

Chemotherapy

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Chemotherapy is a way of treating cervical cancer by taking drugs that destroy cancer cellsand. These drugs prevent cancer cells from growing, dividing, and creating more cancer cells. 

For cervical cancer, chemotherapy is almost always given intravenously (for other cancers, the drugs can be given orally). As you already know, chemotherapy is often combined with radiotherapy. This type of treatment can also be associated with side effects.

Side effects of chemotherapy for cervical cancer:

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  • fatigue,
  • .
  • diarrhoea,
  • .
  • loss of appetite,
  • .
  • vomiting,
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  • nausea,
  • .
  • increased risk of infection,
  • .

Every patient should talk to their doctor about possible short- and long-term side effects. Remember, however, that most side effects - as with radiotherapy - will subside once treatment is completed.

Targeted therapy

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Not every cervical cancer attacks the same cells in the body. Therefore, the most effective treatment should be tailored to the specific cancer. Targeted therapyand targets specific genes or proteins of the cancer. It aims to find weaknesses of selected cancer cells and destroy them.

Most commonly, targeted therapy is combined with chemotherapy and used for advanced cervical cancerand.

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Immunotherapy

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Immunotherapy is a drug treatment  to help the immune system fight cervical cancer. Our immune system may not attack cancer cells because they produce proteins that make the body unable to detect them. 

Immunotherapy interferes with this process and makes the immune system capable of attacking cancer cells. This method of treatment is used when cervical cancer is at an advanced stage, most often when other treatments do not work.

Immunotherapy is used to treat cervical cancer.

In most cases, immunotherapy has less serious side effects than chemotherapy or radiotherapyand. These include:

  • fever,
  • .
  • fatigue,
  • .
  • headaches,
  • .
  • skin rashes,
  • .
  • loss of appetite,
  • loss of appetite.
  • joint and muscle pain,
  • diarrhoea.
  • diarrhoea,
  • .

Alternative medicine

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Alternative and complementary medicine includes medicines and health practices that are not standard treatments for cervical cancerand. This includes meditation, yoga, and taking supplements (vitamins, herbs). 

Most often, alternative medicine is only an adjunct to basic treatment. It allows patients to feel better both mentally and physically. Some people, however, choose to be treated exclusively with alternative medicine.

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Please note!

Remember that most alternative or complementary medicine practices have not been scientifically tested. If you wish to opt for such treatment - please advise your doctor. A specialist will tell you the advantages and disadvantages of this solution.

Clinical studies 

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Clinical trials are controlled scientific studies designed to test innovative treatmentsand. This treatment is one way of achieving state-of-the-art therapy. However, it is not suitable for everyone, so before starting a clinical trial, talk to specialists about its pros and cons, which will vary depending on the type of cancer and your condition, among other things.

What to ask your doctor after a cervical cancer diagnosis?

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A diagnosis of cervical cancer can cause shock and horror. In such moments, few people think about what to find out from a specialist. That is why I have prepared a list of questions for you or your loved ones to use.

Questions immediately after diagnosis

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  • What type of cervical cancer do I have?
  • Is it possible to determine the stage of my cancer and what does it mean?
  • Is it possible to determine the stage of my cancer and what does it mean?
  • Has my cancer spread beyond the cervix?
  • .
  • Will I need other tests to make a decision about treatment? If so, which ones?"
  • .
  • Who can I turn to for help if I am worried about the cost of treatment?
  • Will I need to go to other doctors or health professionals?
  • .

Questions when deciding on a treatment plan

  • What treatment options do I have?
  • Which treatment plan do you recommend to me and why is it better than the others?
  • Which treatment plan do you recommend to me and why is it better than the others?
  • How much experience do you have in treating this type of cancer? (question directly to the treating physician)
  • .
  • Is it advisable to seek a second opinion? If so, who should I go to?"
  • .
  • What will be the aim of my treatment?
  • How much time do I have to decide on a treatment plan?
  • How do I prepare to start treatment?
  • .
  • How long will the treatment last and what will it look like?
  • .
  • What risks and side effects are associated with my treatment plan? Can I mitigate them in some way?
  • .
  • Will the treatment affect my daily life? If so, in what way?
  • .
  • Will the proposed treatment plan cause premature menopause?
  • .
  • What are the chances of the cancer recurring?
  • .
  • What steps will be taken if the treatment does not work or the cancer returns?
  • .
  • Will I be able to have children after treatment? If not, what are my treatment options if I want to become a mum in the future?
  • .

Questions during treatment

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  • How do we know that the treatment is working as it should?
  • .
  • How should I manage the side effects?
  • How should I manage the side effects?
  • What symptoms should I inform the medical team about right away?
  • How can I contact you at night, on holidays or at weekends? (question directly to the treating doctor)
  • .
  • What kind of diet should I follow?
  • Can I have sex during treatment? How will my sex life change after treatment?
  • Should I do physical exercise? If so, what kind of exercise?
  • What specialist for mental health can you recommend to me?
  • .

After-treatment questions

  • Are there any things I should not do? If so, which ones?
  • Do I need a proper diet? If so, what kind?
  • What symptoms should cause me concern?
  • How will follow-up after treatment look like?
  • Should I do physical exercise? If so, what kind?
  • How often do I need to undergo follow-up examinations?
  • .
  • Will it be necessary to have regular blood tests? If so, which ones?
  • How will I know if the cancer has returned? What to look out for?
  • .
  • What is the plan if the cancer returns?
  • .

Remember that these are just example questions. It is also a good idea to write down your own and ask them to your doctor. Remember, too, that other healthcare professionals (e.g. nurses) will also be happy to answer your questions.

Check-ups after treatment

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Selected testsand will also be carried out after the end of treatment. They are designed to monitor the patient's condition and also to detect any recurrence as quickly as possible. Anyone who has undergone cervical cancer should inform their doctor if they notice the following symptoms:

  • vaginal bleeding,
  • .
  • swelling of the legs,
  • .
  • abdominal or back pains,
  • health problems,
  • health problems.
  • trouble urinating,
  • coughing,
  • coughing.
  • coughing,
  • .
  • continued fatigue,
  • .

The most common check-up is every 3-4 months for the first two years. After this time, one should attend them every six months.

Cervical cancer in pregnancy - what is the treatment like?

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Cervical cancer in pregnancy is rare. In addition to this, 70%and of cervical cancer cases detected during pregnancy are stage 1. The treatment plan depends on:

  • the size of the tumour,
  • .
  • stage of pregnancy,
  • .
  • status of nearby lymph nodes,
  • .
  • type of tumour,
  • .

When the cancer is at a very early stage, most doctors will recommend continuing the pregnancy and starting treatment only after the birth. Then, the possible options are mainly hysterectomy, radical trachelectomy or conical biopsy.

In some cases, it is also possible to administer chemotherapy during pregnancy (in the second or third trimester). This should allow the tumour to shrink.

If the cancer is at a more advanced stage, the patient must make a decision together with her doctor whether to continue with the pregnancy. The treatment she will be able to opt for when terminating the pregnancy is a hysterectomy or radiotherapy.

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Remember!

Women at a more advanced stage of cervical cancer who choose to continue with their pregnancy will need to give birth as soon as possible by caesarean section.

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How to cope with treatment?

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Cancer causes not only physical side effects, but also psychological ones. Therefore, it is important to ask specialists for help. This most often includes:

  • taking appropriate medication,
  • .
  • relaxation techniques,
  • .
  • emotional support from loved ones,
  • .
  • spiritual support,
  • .

It is also very important to keep talking to your doctor. Don't be afraid to ask your specialist what stage of treatment you are at, let them know at the outset what you want to know and, if you need to, find out more about support groups.

Metastatic cervical cancer - what to do?

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The news of metastatic cervical cancer is extremely stressful and difficult for many. However, it does not mean that one should give up. Treatment options are also available in such cases. More often than not, different doctors will have different opinions about the treatment plan, so it is worth exploring all the options so that you can freely choose the one that is best for you. 

In most cases, when dealing with advanced cervical cancer, treatment will involve a combination of radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

Remission and possible recurrence

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Remission occurs when the cancer cannot be detected in the body and there are no longer any symptoms. A distinction is made between permanent and temporary remission, so this period is associated with great uncertainty. Although permanent remissions are indeed many, it is worth talking to your doctor about a possible recurrence. Understanding its risks will make it much easier to prepare for a possible recurrence of the cancer.

If there is a recurrence, a new cycle of tests will be necessary. Recurrent cancer can occur in the same area, close to it or in a completely different area. Women who have undergone cervical cancer are also at higher risk of other cancersand, such as:

  • cancer of the mouth and throat,
  • .
  • cancers of the larynx,
  • .
  • cancers of the anus,
  • .
  • vulvar cancer,
  • .
  • vaginal cancer,
  • .
  • lung cancer,
  • .
  • cancers of the stomach,
  • .
  • cancer of the large intestine,
  • .
  • cancer of the pancreas,
  • .
.

Remember!

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The period of cancer recurrence is very difficult for everyone. Most of us then need as much support as possible. No one who is in this situation should be afraid to talk to their healthcare team about their condition or attend a support group.

Remember!

How to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence?

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There are steps you can take to reduce your risk of cancer recurrence. What's more, these behaviours will positively affect your overall health, as well as reducing the likelihood of other diseases.

How to reduceandthe risk of cancer recurrence?

    .
  • Avoid tobacco products.
  • .
  • Stay on a balanced diet and maintain a healthy weight.
  • .
  • Perform physical activity and avoid a sedentary lifestyle.
  • Do not overexert yourself.
  • Don't abuse alcohol, and ideally, give it up completely.
  • .

Alcohol adversely affects liver health. You can find out more about it in these articles:

What if treatment does not work?

.

A complete cure for cervical cancer is not always possible. When the cancer cannot be controlled or cured, we may call it incurable or even fatal.

What if the treatment does not work?

People with advanced cancer whose prognosis indicates that they will survive less than six months may opt for palliative care. It aims to provide the best quality of life for people who are approaching the end of their life.

Palliative care is the best option for people with advanced cancer.

Cervical cancer - prognosis

.

Most of us, upon finding out that someone close to us has developed cancer, check the statistics. However, prognosis depends on several factors, such as:

  • stage of cancer,
  • .
  • type of cancer,
  • .
  • the patient's age and general health,
  • .
  • existence of other diseases or health problems (e.g. reduced immunity),
  • .

Cervical cancer - survival rates

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Doctors estimate the prognosis of cervical cancer based on data collected over many yearsand. The most basic statistic is the 5-year relative survival rate. It tells you what percentage of patients with the same type of cervical cancer and the same stage survive at least 5 years from diagnosis compared to those in the general population.

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Stadium

.

Survival rate

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.

Early stage of cancer

.

92%

Cancer spread to nearby tissues, organs or lymph nodes.

58%

18%

The 5-year relative survival rate for all people diagnosed with cervical cancer is 66%.

The 5-year relative survival rate for all people diagnosed with cervical cancer is 66%.

How to understand the statistics that speak to prognosis?

.

Cervical cancer survival statistics are produced on the basis of very large groups of peopleand. Therefore, they should not be used to assess your own chances of survival. Note a few facts that will convince you that statistics that talk about prognosis should not be taken as definitive:

  • Everyone is different, no two people in the world are the same, therefore responses to treatment can vary significantly.
  • Survival statistics are not a given.
  • Survival statistics are calculated on very large groups of people on whom different (including older) treatments have been used.
  • Survival statistics are calculated on very large groups of people on whom different (including older) treatments have been used.
  • Medicine is constantly moving forward, so we need time to determine how effective new treatments are.
  • .

Only your doctor knows the state of your health and it is he or she who you should trust with your prognosis. Don't be afraid to ask your specialist what your chances of survival are, and you'll be sure to get a reliable answer.

See also:

Summary

.
.

Below you will find a collection of key facts about cervical cancer. Remember:

  • There are two main types of cervical cancer: adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma of the cervix.
  • There are two main types of cervical cancer: adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma of the cervix.
  • Cervical cancer can take up to 20 years to develop 
  • .
  • Prevention of cervical cancer primarily includes: vaccination for HPV and regular cytological examinations.
  • .
  • The most common symptoms of cervical cancer in the early stages include pelvic pain, vaginal bleeding after intercourse, watery vaginal discharge with a strong odour, or blood in the vaginal discharge.
  • .
  • The main cause of cervical cancer is HPV infection.
  • .
  • Tests such as two-handed gynaecological examination, cytology, HPV test, colposcopy or biopsy are used to diagnose cervical cancer.
  • Cervical cancer can be treated surgically (operatively), as well as with chemotherapy, radiotherapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy.
  • .
  • The 5-year survival rate for women who develop cervical cancer is 66%.
  • .

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you have learned a lot about cervical cancer. However, if you have questions, feel free to ask in the comments section. But first, check out what others have asked.

.

FAQ

.
. Does a virgin have a lower risk of cervical cancer?.

Yes, women who have not yet had sex have a lower risk of cervical cancer. This is because the most common cause of this cancer is HPV infection acquired through sexual activity. However, experts recommend that women who have never been sexually active should also undergo preventive screening.

. Is it possible to get pregnant with cervical cancer?.

The possibility of becoming pregnant after cervical cancer depends on treatment. Removal of the uterus will prevent you from having a child, while radiotherapy can affect this organ and stop the ovaries working. When choosing your treatment, let your doctor know if you intend to try for a baby afterwards.

. Can cervical cancer be felt with a finger?.

No, cervical cancer cannot be felt with a finger. The cancer cells are very small and can only be seen under a microscope. However, if you feel a lump in the vagina, see your doctor immediately. It may be indicative of a polyp or cyst, which can also be dangerous to your health if left untreated.

. Does a bleeding erosion indicate cervical cancer?.

No, a bleeding erosion is not indicative of cervical cancer. It is most often caused by infection, inflammation or hormonal changes. However, this does not mean that the problem can be underestimated. Any woman who is faced with it should visit her doctor.

. Is there a cure for cervical cancer?.

No, there is no cure for cervical cancer. However, this cancer is highly treatable if detected early enough.

. Is it possible to have intercourse with cervical cancer?.

The possibility of having intercourse with cervical cancer depends on the treatment chosen, as well as the patient's physical and emotional state. Therefore, it is always advisable to consult your doctor. On the other hand, it is usually possible to return to intercourse after treatment a few weeks after its completion.

. Does hormonal contraception affect the risk of cervical cancer?.

Yes, research suggests that the use of oral hormonal contraception increases the risk of cervical cancer. Furthermore, the longer a woman uses this form of contraception, the greater the likelihood of cancer. This decreases over time after stopping taking the pill.

.
. Is dysplasia a cancer?.

No, cervical dysplasia is not cancer. The condition defines cell changes in the cervix. Although dysplasia is not cancer, it can develop into it and invade nearby areas.

. Is stage 4 cervical cancer curable?.

Stage 4 cervical cancer means that the cancer has spread to nearby organs. In many cases, it will not be curable. Despite this, 17 out of 100 women survive more than five years after a diagnosis of stage 4 cervical cancer.

. Do you lose weight with cervical cancer?.

People with cervical cancer often experience symptoms such as pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting, which can lead to weight loss. With advanced cancer, the digestion and absorption of nutrients can be affected, which can also lead to weight loss.

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.

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