Cervical cancer is one of the diseases that affect women all around the world. Thankfully cervical cancer screening or HPV tests help detect the cancer early when it is treatable. The test saves millions of lives globally, and the number of deaths resulting from cervical cancer has been declining over the years.
HPV (human papillomavirus) is a group of sexually transmitted viruses, some of which can lead to the development of cervical cancer; therefore, the test is an alternative to cervical cancer screening, commonly known as a pap smear.
Hong kong cervical cancer screening is recommended for every woman from the age of 24-64, whether they are sexually active or not. It is recommended every three years for women from age 24 to 49 and after every five years for older women from age 50 to 64.
Cervical cancer diagnosis
If you get a positive result for cervical cancer screening, your doctor will likely thoroughly examine your cervix before making any conclusions. Colonoscopy involves the use of a special magnifying instrument is used to detect abnormal cells in the cervix.
During a colonoscopy, the doctor removes more cells from your cervix in what is known as a biopsy for further laboratory testing. The doctor may use either of the following ways to obtain the cervical cells:
- Punch biopsy: The doctor uses a sharp tool to pinch off small tissues from your cervix.
- Endocervical curettage: The doctor uses a curet or thin brush to scrape off a tissue sample from your cervix.
- Electrical wire loop: Using a low voltage electrified wire to obtain the cervical tissue sample under local anesthesia.
- Colonization or cone biopsy: The doctor collects deeper layers of the cervical tissues for lab testing under general anesthesia.
If diagnosed with cervical cancer, the next thing is staging to determine the cancer stage, which informs the treatment plan. A doctor usually performs staging examinations, including:
- Imaging tests: x-ray, MRI, CT, or PET (positron emission tomography) to determine if the cancer has extended beyond the cervix.
- The use of special scopes to visually examine the bladder and the rectum.
Treatment for cervical cancer
Cervical cancer is treatable if it is detected early enough, and that is why Hong Kong cervical cancer screening is important for every woman. Treatment for cervical cancer depends on the stage, personal health history, other complications, and preferences.
For instance, while some prefer to undergo surgery, others prefer radiation therapy to remove the cancerous cells. Generally, surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or a combination may be used to treat cancer. Let’s look at the treatments.
In most cases, doctors use surgery to treat early-stage cervical cancer. However, the surgery depends on the cancer stage, tumor size, and whether you would like to get pregnant in the future.
For a minor cervical cancer, it might be possible to remove the cancerous cells through cone biopsy. That involves cutting a cone-shaped piece of the cancerous cervical tissue leaving the rest of the part intact. This option makes it possible to become pregnant in the future.
A radical trachelectomy procedure removes the cervix and some of the surrounding tissue. However, the uterus remains intact, making it possible to get pregnant in the future.
Hysterectomy is another surgical option for treating early cervical cancer, and it removes the cervix, uterus, part of the vagina, and the nearby lymph nodes. The best thing about this option is that it can cure cervical cancer and prevent it from recurring. However, it removes the uterus, making it impossible to get pregnant in the future.
Radiation therapy uses high-powered energy beams like protons and X-rays to kill cancer cells in the cervix. It is the ideal treatment option for locally advanced cervical cancers and is often used together with chemotherapy. Many doctors also recommend it after surgery, especially if there is a high risk of cancer reoccurrence.
Radiation happens internally, externally, or both. Externally radiation directs the beams at the affected part of the body, while internal radiation involves placing a device with radioactive material inside the vagina for some minutes.
Suppose you prefer radiation as your ideal option for cervical cancer treatment. In that case, it is crucial to explore egg preservation options before the treatment starts if you would like children in the future. Remember that radiation may kickstart menopause if you haven’t started it yet.
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs with chemicals to kill cancer cells, and it can be given in pill form or through vein injections. Since chemotherapy enhances the impact of radiation, low doses of chemotherapy plus radiation are often helpful in treating locally advanced cervical cancer. Higher doses of chemotherapy are used to treat highly advanced cervical cancer.
Targeted therapy is often combined with chemotherapy to treat advanced cervical cancer. These drug treatments focus on specific weaknesses of the cancer cells causing them to die and enhancing the other treatment options.
Immunotherapy is also a drug treatment that boosts the body’s ability to fight cervical cancer. One thing to know about cancer cells is that they produce proteins that make them undetectable by the body’s immune system making it harder to fight them. Therefore immunotherapy interferes with that process making it possible for your immune system to fight cancer. The treatment is helpful in advanced cancer stages and when other treatment options aren’t working.
This refers to special medical care to complement the ongoing cervical cancer treatment. Palliative care specialists collaborate with doctors and your family to provide an additional layer of support to help patients cope better and live longer despite the cancer. Trained specialists offer palliative care alongside other treatments you may be receiving.
Coping and support
No one is usually prepared for a cancer diagnosis, but the situation is controllable. If diagnosed with cervical cancer, finding a support system or someone to talk to is crucial. The Hong Kong cancer fund also helps cancer patients manage the financial burden of cancer treatment. Moreover, learning about cervical cancer can help you know what to expect from your treatment.