Cancer of the cervix is predominantly (90%) squamous cell cancer and can include adenocarcinomas. It is less common than it once was because of early detection by the Pap test, but it remains the third most common reproductive cancer in women. it occurs most commonly between the ages of 35 and 45 years but can occur in women as young as 18 years. Risk factors vary from multiple sex partners to smoking to chronic cervical infection (exposure to HP virus).
- Cervical cancer is most often asymptomatic. When discharge, irregular bleeding, or bleeding after sexual intercourse occurs, the disease may be advanced.
- Vaginal discharge gradually increases in amount, becomes watery, and finally is dark ans foul-smelling because of necrosis of the tumor mass.
- Bleeding occurs at irregular intervals between periods or after menopause, may be slight (enough to spot the undergarment), and is usually noted after mild trauma (intercourse, douching, or defecation). As disease continues, bleeding may persist and increase.
- Nerve involvement, producing excruciating pain the back and legs, occurs as cancer advances and tissues outside the cervix are invaded, including the fundus and lymph glands anterior to the sacrum.
- Extreme emaciation and anemia, often with fever due to secondary infection and abscesses in the ulcerating mass, and fistula formation may occur in the final stage.
ASSESSMENT AND DIAGNOSTIC FINDINGS
- Pap smear and biopsy results show severe dysplasia, HGSIL, or carcinoma in situ.
- Abnormal Pap test may be followed by biopsy, dilation and curettage (D & C), computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), intravenous utrography (IVU), cystogram and barium radiopgraphs.
Disease may be staged based on the International Classification staging system or TNM classification to determine treatment as well as progress of the cancer.
- Conservative treatments include cryotherapy (freezing with nitrous oxide), laser therapy, loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP), or conization (removing a cone shaped portion of the cervix).
- Simle hysterectomy if invasion is less than 3 mm. Radical trachelectomy is an alternative to hysterectomy.
- For invasive cancer , radical hysterectomy, radiation (external-beam or brachetherapy), or chemotherapy (cisplatin, carboplatin, and paclitaxel [Taxol] or a combination of these approaches may be used.
- For recurrent cancer, pelvic exenteration is considered.