Cervical cancer, a malignant neoplasm, occurs when cells of the cervix grow abnormally. The cancer begins in the cervix, the lower part of the women’s uterus that opens into the vagina. The cancer of the cervix advances relatively slow in comparison to the other cancer forms.
Cervical cancer is mostly caused by a virus called human papillomayirus or as the abbreviation goes, HPV. There are many types of cervical cancer and they occur due to sexual contact with someone who has it. While some of them cause genital warts, others many not have very definitive symptoms. It is important for all to understand the diagnosis and prognosis of this type of cancer.
The diagnosis of cervical cancer is not easy before it reaches an advanced stage as there are no definite signs of the condition. Also, signs such as vaginal bleeding, unexplained change in menstrual cycle, abnormal vaginal discharge and discomfort during intercourse are often confused with other conditions.
It has been found that half cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed when the cancer is confined to the cervix, and about 35 percent are diagnosed after the cancer has spread to the adjacent areas or the lymph nodes. Then about 10 percent of the cases are diagnosed when this cancer has spread to distant regions.
The Pap smear test
Also known as the Pap test is the most common form of diagnostic test used to detect cervical cancer. During this test, the doctor takes a sample of cells from the surface of the patient’s cervix. If the sample shows abnormal cell growth changes, then the doctor may go towards additional tests to confirm the presence of cancerous cells. Biopsy of the cervix usually confirms the cancer.
This is a common biopsy test used for the confirmation of cervical cancer. In this test, the doctor makes the use of a colposcope, a lighted instrument that magnifies the cervix. Images could be produced on the computer screen which can help the doctor in making a better and informed decision. The degree of the severity of the disease could also be confirmed through a colposcopy biopsy.
Yet another diagnostic method used for cervical cancer. In this test, after giving the patient a bout of general anesthesia, a cone shaped tissue is taken from the cervix layer of the patient.
The prognosis for a patient suffering from cervical cancer largely depends on the stage of the cancer and also the type of cervical cancer and size of the tumor. Patients suffering from cervical cancer have their prognosis markedly affected by the extent of the disease at the very time of diagnose.
Some of the factors that we depend on for the prognosis of cervical cancer are:
• The stage of cancer, as more advanced the stage, the lower is the chance for recovery or survival for five years.
• The aggressiveness of the cancer.
• How an individual may respond to the therapy.
• The age of the patient.
• The general health and ability of the patient to withstand surgery, radiation or chemotherapy.
Here we must understand the 5 year survival rate, which refers to the percentage of patients who live at least for 5 years after the cancer is diagnosed. It has been found that patients could live for more than five years in some cases.
Once again, the main premise to look at the survival rates is the depths due to cancer or any other cause as well within the five year period after the diagnoses. People who were treated at least 5 years ago are looked at closely when dealing with the 5 year survival rate.
It is important that patients get regularly checked and followed up after the therapy as this helps to detect the recurrent cervical cancer.
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