Cervical Cancer Q & A
What is cervical cancer?
Your cervix is the lower portion of your uterus and connects your uterus to your vagina. It has two distinct parts, comprised of two different types of cells. Cervical cancer occurs when the cells lining either portion of your cervix begin to multiply at an excessive rate.
Cervical cancer used to be a leading cause of cancer deaths in American women, but advancements in diagnostics and treatment options have led to astounding shifts in those statistics. Today, early detection and effective treatment allow many women go on to live long and healthy lives after a cervical cancer diagnosis.
How do I know if I have cervical cancer?
Cervical cancer presents few symptoms in the earliest stages, so it’s important to come in for routine well-woman examinations. Regular Pap testing is the best tool for detecting cellular changes in the pre-cancer stage.
A Pap test, or Pap smear, is a simple process performed during your pelvic exam. Your gynecologist uses a special brush or spatula to remove a small sample of cells from your cervix. Those cells are examined under a microscope for signs of abnormality.
If cervical cancer has reached a more advanced stage, symptoms might include:
- Abnormally heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding
- Unusual vaginal discharge
- Painful intercourse
These symptoms can also indicate numerous other gynecologic conditions and should prompt a visit to Unified Premier Women’s Care.
What are the options for treating cervical cancer?
Your treatment path depends on your overall health and the stage of your cancer. You’ll be fully informed on the pros and cons of each option before beginning a treatment path.
This approach uses high-powered beams of energy to destroy cancer cells. The advantage of radiation therapy is the potential to preserve your uterus and cervix to allow for future pregnancy.
Another conservative option, chemotherapy uses medications to kill cancer cells. Low dose chemotherapy can be effective, and a combination of chemotherapy and radiation is sometimes the best treatment path.
In some cases, surgery is the best way to remove cancerous cells. If a conservative approach is possible, your uterus and cervix are left intact. In other cases, partial or complete removal of your reproductive organs is required to reduce the risk that your cancer might spread.
When it comes to cutting-edge diagnostics and treatment for cervical cancer, Unified Premier Women’s Care is a trusted resource for women in and around Marietta, Georgia. Book an appointment today to make the most of your health.