Health A-Z

What is Cervical Cancer?


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Cervical cancer is the 4th most common cancer in women globally and an estimated 604,000 new cases were reported in 2020. Out of the 342,000 deaths from cervical cancer in 2020, at least 90% of these happen in middle and low-income countries. In the UAE, approximately 4,500 new cases of cancer are reported annually.

Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer starts in the cervix; it is the growth of abnormal cells in the lining of your cervix. Cervical cancer can occur anywhere in your cervix - the lower part of the uterus that connects to the uterus. The most prevalent cervical cancer is squamous cell carcinoma. Almost all cervical cancers are caused by an infection from some type of Human Papillomavirus (HPV).

Cervical cancer develops gradually. When your body is exposed to the Human Papillomavirus, your immune system prevents the virus from harming you. However, in a small percentage of people, the virus survives for several years which contributes to the growth of cervical cancer cells.

Signs and Symptoms of Cervical Cancer


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Cervical cancer signs and symptoms are significant warning signs of Human papillomavirus-related infection. Cervical cancer is common in women over 30 years. Experts believe that the Human papillomavirus (HPV), spreads among people who are sexually active and they transmit it through skin-to-skin genital contact.

Here are various signs and symptoms of cervical cancer to watch out for;

Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding

Abnormal vaginal bleeding or abnormal uterine bleeding is a common symptom experienced by most women at some point in their lives. It is often caused by a benign process that causes spotting or bleeding or hormonal fluctuations. However, abnormal uterine bleeding is often experienced by women with gynecologic cancer like cervical cancer.

It is vital to understand when vaginal bleeding is caused by cervical cancer and that’s why you should consult the best radiologist Dubai clinic for the necessary diagnosis. Several instances should prompt you to see help, for instance;

·       Heavy periods – You should consult your healthcare provider if you experience heavy periods for more than 2 cycles. Sudden, heavy vaginal bleeding that fills your pad every hour for at least 24 hours should prompt you to seek help.

·       Post-menopausal bleeding – If you are menopausal and experience vaginal bleeding, visit your doctor for diagnosis, advice, or treatment.

·       Bleeding between periods – An additional cycle or heavy spotting in a month that occurs for more than 2 cycles means that you might have a problem.

·       Bleeding during or after intercourse – This can be a symptom of cervical or vaginal cancer.

Painful Urination

Painful urination, discomfort, or a dull ache in your pelvis could indicate that you have cervical cancer. It is an indication that cancer has spread to the bladder and sometimes you might notice hints of blood in your urine. Other infections can cause painful urination, for instance, sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia, gonorrhea, urinary tract infection, and yeast infections. If this discomfort persists for more than a day, consult your physician.

Abnormal Discharge

Cervical cancer discharge is an unhealthy bodily function and is different from normal vaginal discharge. It is normal to have discharge before, during, or after your menstrual cycle. If you notice an abnormal discharge such as unusual color and bad odor, seek medical help.

An abnormal vaginal discharge could be a sign of an underlying health problem in your reproductive system. It is crucial to differentiate between cervical cancer and normal discharge. Signs to look out for include;

·       Discharge with blood – If you notice bloody discharge between your periods, it could be a sign of cervical cancer.

·       Bad odor – another sign of cervical cancer is foul-smelling vaginal discharge.

·       Brown discharge – Although the discharge towards your periods is not usually red, it can be brown; this is normal. However, it is not normal to have brown discharge between your periods or in menopause.

·       Continuous discharge – If you have a watery discharge with a foul odor that does not stop, it could be a cervical cancer sign.

Abnormal Cycles

You might experience unexpected bleeding in various situations like when changing birth control, after tissue sample or pap smear, or in times of intense stress. However, a persistent irregular cycle should concern you. Consider this a red flag if the irregular cycle continues for 3 months or more accompanied by unexplained vaginal bleeding which is not part of your normal cycle. Bleeding like this could be a sign of an irritated cervix. Your menstrual cycle is one of the indicators of your health.

Back Pain

Although back pain can be caused by muscle and bone-related issues, it can be a sign of cervical cancer, especially when it’s accompanied by other cervical cancer symptoms. Back pain happens when cervical cancer spreads and prevents blood flow.

Anemia

Cervical cancer causes abnormal cell growth which often causes bleeding and iron deficiency which leads to anemia. Cancer causes inflammation and hinders the production of normal red blood cells. Always feeling weak and exhausted can be a sign of anemia and you might also experience an increased heart rate from your normal activities. It is common to also experience other anemia symptoms like dizziness, headache, shortness of breath after engaging in simple tasks, pale lips, skin, and nails, frequent colds, etc.

Treatment

Different types of cervical cancer treatments are available for patients. They include;

·       Surgery – Cervical cancer treatment through surgery can be in various ways such as colonization; a procedure where the physician extracts a cone-shaped piece of tissue from your cervix and cervical canal. Colonization helps to diagnose and treat cervical conditions. Other surgical procedures include total hysterectomy, radical hysterectomy, modified radical hysterectomy, radical trachelectomy, pelvic exenteration, etc.

·       Radiation therapy – Radiation uses high X-ray therapy to kill cancer cells and keep them from growing.

·       Chemotherapy – This type of treatment uses medication to kill cancer cells or halt their growth.

·       Immunotherapy – Uses your immune system to fight cervical cancer.

 

Knowing the signs and symptoms of cervical cancer empowers you to understand what is normal and what is unhealthy. If you notice any of these symptoms or other abnormalities, consider professional help from the best radiologists.

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