What is Cervical Cancer?
Cervical cancer is cancer of the cervix. This involves the abnormal growth of cells in the lower part of the uterus. The cells normally stop dividing when they come into contact with each other. Cancerous cells continue to multiply since they do not respond to contact inhibition. Cervical cancer is curable if it is caught early. A pap test is used to determine whether or not the cells of the cervix are normal. If the cells are abnormal, further tests may be ordered, including a biopsy.
Causes of Cervical Cancer
One of the causes of cervical cancer is the human papillomavirus (HPV). It can cause abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix, which may cause them to become cancerous. There are several strains of the HPV, and not all of them will cause cancer.
Smoking is another factor which may lead to the development of cervical cancer. The chemicals in cigarettes cause changes in the cells of the cervix that may lead to cancer.
Another risk factor for the development of cervical cancer is oral contraceptives. The risk increases in those that have taken oral contraceptives for more than five years.
Stage 2 Cervical Cancer
Stage 2 cervical cancer is characterized by abnormal growths that have spread beyond the cervix and uterus, but have not reached the pelvic wall. Stage 2 is divided into several sub-stages based on the tumor extent.
- Stage IIA - the cancer has not spread to the tissue next to the cervix. It may or may not have entered the upper part of the vagina.
- Stage IIA1 - the tumor is less than 4 cm.
- Stage IIA2 - the tumor is greater than 4cm.
- Stage IIB - the cancer has spread into the parametria, which is next to the cervix.
Stage 2 cervical cancer has not spread to the lymph nodes or to any other area of the body.
There are several symptoms associated with cervical cancer. In the earlier stages of the cancer, the symptoms may not be present. Abnormal bleeding and pain during sex are two signs that something might be wrong. Pain in the pelvic area may also be a symptom of cervical cancer.
For stage IIA cervical cancer, there are two approaches to treatment. Surgery to remove the reproductive organs through a radical hysterectomy is one option. The pelvic lymph nodes are removed as well. The second approach involves external beam radiation therapy which destroys the cancer cells. Interstitial radiation is used afterward with chemotherapy to ensure all the cancer is gone.
Stage IIB cervical cancer is treated with a series of external beam radiation treatments over a five week period. Chemotherapy is also used during this time. Afterward, interstitial radiation is used.
Long Term Outlook
The five year survival rate for stage IIA cervical cancer is 70 to 95 percent. For stage IIB cervical cancer, the five year survival rate is 65 to 80 percent.
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