Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in the world. More than 500,000 women worldwide are diagnosed each year with this disease and nearly half of those will die from it. Before the invention of the Pap smear procedure in 1940?, cervical cancer was the most deadly form of cancer for women in United States. Since regular preventive screenings have become common, the incidence of cervical cancer has dropped in this country by over 75 percent. Still, between 10,000 and 13,000 American women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, and one third of those women die from it.
Many of these deaths could be prevented if the pap smear test were accessible to all women, but for those who lack resources, such as money, health insurance, or access to medical care, regular screenings are not possible. In developing nations, the regular gynecological screenings is an even more serious problem that leads to a majority of the world’s cases of cervical cancer.
The cervix is the lower, narrow end of the uterus that leads to the vagina. Cervical cancer occurs when cells of the cervix begin to divide uncontrollably. The abnormally dividing cells form as mass, or tumor. As the cells continue to divide, they may invade the surrounding normal tissue. Cells may also break off of the primary tumor and spread to distant sites of the body, a process known as metastasis. Fortunately, cervical cancer usually develops slowly, over the course of months or even years, so with regular screenings it is possible to detect this cancer in its earliest stages when it is most easily treated. Before cancer appears in the cervix, there are typically precancerous changes, known as dysplasia, which may occur. The pap smear is a procedure specifically designed to identify these changes so that potentially cancerous cells can be monitored or removed before they progressed to an advanced, and potentially life threatening, stage of cancer.
Cancer of the cervix has no symptoms, which is why it is so important for women to have regular gynecological examinations that include either a slandered pap smear test or newer HPV DNA test. When they do appear, symptoms of cervical cancer may include pelvic pain, bleeding or pain during sexual intercourse, bleeding between menstrual cycles, and unusual discharge from the vagina. Having these symptoms does not necessarily mean that an individual has cervical cancer, but it does mean that physician should be consulted immediately to determine the cause of the symptoms. As with other forms of cancer, there are several risk factors associated with the development of cervical cancer. Among these are cigarette smoking, a poor diet that lacks specific vitamins, and nutrients, a compromised immune system, or a family history of cervical cancer.
Risk factors of cervical cancer
Many factors are associated with developing cervical cancer. Among the most important is infection with high risk human Papilloma virus (HPV), now understood to have a central role in the development of cervical cancer. Among these are indicators of sexual activity, including the number of sexual partners, age at first intercourse, number of pregnancies, and a history of sexually transmitted disease.
Other factors identified including cigarette smoking, being exposed to diethylstilbestrol while your mother was pregnant with you, and infection HIV, finally, an increased risk of cervical cancer appears to be seen in older women, especially of non-Caucasian descent, those of lower socioeconomic status, and in women with less than a high school education.
Role of birth control pills in cervical cancer
One risk factor that has been examined is that of oral contraceptive use. However, women using oral contraceptives tend not to use other barrier methods, and also may have sexual contacts. This makes an association between birth control pills and cervical cancer not entirely clear. A recent analysis of the literature concluded that there may be two-fold increased risk for developing cervical cancer among women using oral contraceptive for greater than 10 years.
Early stages of cervical cancer may produce no symptoms, at all, thus emphasizing the importance of regular screening. Intermenstrual bleeding and post coital bleeding in conjunction with vaginal discharge are common as the diseases progresses, sciatic nerve pain, leg edema, and flank pain from uretric obstruction are symptoms of advanced disease.
Diagnosis of cervical cancer
Human Papilloma Virus infection is the most common cause of cervical cancer, responsible for over 90% of all cases. The HPV test, which also involves the collection of cervical cells, is performed during the pelvic examination. If irregularly shaped cells (dysplasia), potentially cancerous cells, are found on a pap test, a colonoscopy, performed in a physician’s office is usually the next step. A gynecologist applies a 3-5% acetic acid solution (like vinegar) on the cervix, and then examines it and the vagina with a colposcope. During a colposcopy, a clinician can also perform a cervical punch biopsy, the removal of a sample of tissue to see whether cancer cells are present. Endocervical curettage may be done at the same time, which is scrapping of cells from inside the Endocervical canal with a curette, a small spoon shaped instrument with a sharp edge or a cytobrush. The excised tissue is than examined under a microscope for malignant characteristics.
If any of the above demonstrates potentially cancerous cells, further options are available and may be performed in a doctor’s office or in a hospital under general anesthesia. Conization is the surgical removal of a larger, cone shaped sample of tissue from the cervical canal, areas where precancers and cancers are most likely to develop. This is done by using either knife, or the loop electrosurgical excision procedure. When cervical cancer is found in earliest stages, conization is the only form of surgical therapy necessary.
Prevention and vaccination
Recently, a Human Papilloma Virus recombient vaccine known as Gardasil has been developed and approved for use. Gardasil is quadrivalent, which means it can protect against infection with Human Papilloma virus types 6, 11, 16, and 18. Gardasil will not protect against HPV types other than types 6, 11, 16, and 18. It will however, prevent approximately 70% of the cervical cancers and 90% of the cases of genital warts. The vaccine will not protect against other sexually transmitted illness.
Currently it is recommended that women ages nine through twenty-six be vaccinated. Three injections of the vaccines are required. The second injection is give two months after the first dose. And the third dose is given six month after the first dose.
All the three doses are required for significant protection. Side effects, generally mild and uncommon, include pain, swelling, itching, redness, fever, nausea, and dizziness. The vaccine will not substitute for routine cervical screening, a careful pelvic exam, and a pap smear. It is not recommended in those women infected with HIV or who are pregnant.
Treatment of cervical cancer
Treatment if cervical cancer mainly include
Surgery – surgery for younger women, surgery is usually recommended because one can preserve the ovaries, thereby preventing premature menopause.
Radiation – several radiation modalities may be sued depending on the stage of the disease.
Chemotherapy – it is now standard therapy to give chemotherapy simultaneously with radiation therapy in women with advanced cervical cancers.
Homeopathic treatment of cervical cancer – Homeopathy is one of the most popular holistic systems of medicine. The selection of remedy is based upon the theory of individualization and symptoms similarity by using holistic approach. This is the only way through which a state of complete health can be regained by removing all the sign and symptoms from which the patient is suffering. The aim of homeopathy is not only to treat cervical cancer but to address its underlying cause and individual susceptibility. As far as therapeutic medication is concerned, several well-proved remedies are available for cervical cancer symptoms treatment that can be selected on the basis of cause, condition, sensation, extension, location and modalities of the complaints. For individualized remedy selection and treatment, the patient should consult a qualified homeopathic doctor in person. There are following medicines which are helpful for the treatment of cervical cancer symptoms:
Iodum, Kreosotum, Natrum Carb, Carbo Animalis, Thuja, Calcaria Flour, Hydrocotyle, Sabina, Calcaria Carb, Kali Iodide, Sulphuric Acid, Conium, Hydrastis, Sanguinaria, Phosphorous, Lachesis and many other remedies.
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