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What is carcinoma of the cervix?

Carcinoma of the cervix, in general also known as cervical cancer is a group of cancerous cells that occurs in the uterine cervix, which is the lowest portion of women's womb and is connected to the uterus with the vagina.
Cervical carcinoma often occurs when the cells of the cervix develop abnormally and infect other healthy cells and tissues. These infected cells may also spread to other body organs, such as the liver, bladder, lungs, rectum, and vagina.

Types of carcinoma of the cervix

There are mainly two types of carcinoma of the cervix occurs and these can only be distinguished by their respective cells.

  • Squamous cell carcinomas: This type of cervical carcinomas occurs in the bottom of the cervix in flat thin cells. Also, this type of cervical cancer is common among women.
  • Adenocarcinomas: This type of cervical carcinomas develops in the upper part of the cervix in glandular cells. Adenocarcinomas cervix is rare as compared to squamous cell carcinomas and found only in 20 percent of the cases.
  • Symptoms of cervical carcinomas

    Following are some significant symptoms that you may face in cervical carcinomas:

    • Pelvic pain
    • Pain, in case cancer reaches to advanced stage
    • Abnormal vaginal discharge
    • Abnormal vaginal bleeding excluding menstruation
    • Kidney failure due to a urinary tract or bowel obstruction, in case cancer gets worse.
    Diagnosis of cervical carcinomas

    There are many tests with which accurate results can be made about cervical carcinomas and some of them are mention below:

    • Pap test: In the Pap test, the doctor gently scrapes some samples of cells from the vagina and the cervix to find possible cancerous cells.
    • Biopsy: In biopsy, the doctor takes out a small piece of a sample of tissues that will be examined under a microscope to find cancerous cells. Biopsy is capable of making a definite diagnosis of cancerous cells.
    • Colposcopy: In this test, the doctor uses a special instrument known as a colposcope that magnifies the area around the cervix. This provides a larger and clear view of tissues of the vagina and cervix. The colposcope isn't inserted in women's womb moreover it is not painful at all. .
    • If from the above tests any sign of cancerous cells in the cervix or near to it are found then the doctor refers the patient to a gynecologic oncologist, who is specialized in treating this kind of cancers. Further tests are performed by the doctors to ensure if the cancer has spread to other organs or not.

    • X-ray: X-ray can provide images of internal body organs using a small amount of radiation.
    • CT Scan: Computed tomography is also similar to x-ray but in this test images can be received from different angles. 3D images can easily show abnormalities or tumors.
    • PET: Positron emission tomography is a test in which a small amount of radioactive substance is injected into patient's body and cancerous cells need the energy to grow more of similar cells so they absorb this radioactive energy. A scanner detects the location of this energy and produce images of part of the body.
    Treatment of cervical carcinomas

    The treatment for cervical cancer is dependent on various factors, such as the stage of cancer, size of the tumor, health of women, body conditions and age. Proper surgeries are performed considering all the factors and some of them are mention below:

      Surgery

    • Conization: This type of surgery often performed for small cervical carcinomas. A small conical piece of abnormal cells is removed using a laser, knife, or a heated wire loop. After this surgery patient can still become a mother.
    • Hysterectomy: In this surgery the surgeon removes the uterus and cervix and performed only when cancerous cells spread inside the cervix. You will not be able to get pregnant after this surgery.
    • Trachelectomy: This surgery is also known as cervicectomy is performed when the cancer is at an early stage and patient wants to have children. This cervix is removed along with top of the vagina but the uterus is still at its place.
    • Radiation

      In radiation, highly charged particles are bombarded on the cancer cells to stop their growth and to kill the cancer cells. Radiation can be given in two ways:

    • Brachytherapy: In this method, radiation is given using a small device that is placed near to the cancerous area. This is usually performed in early-stage cervical carcinomas.
    • External beam radiation therapy: This type of radiation is used in advanced stage cervical cancers and is performed so that cancer cells would not start reproducing again. The radiation is bombarded using a machine once a day for 5 to 6 weeks.
    Chemotherapy

    After performing respective radiation and surgery special drugs are given to the patient to slow down the growth of cancer cells. Chemotherapy is often given through an IV. Doctors may perform chemo using radiation, which is also known as chemoradiation.