Cervical cancer can take several forms and can be found in different parts of the cervix, the narrow passageway that connects the uterus to the vagina.
The medical oncologists and other healthcare professionals at Regional Cancer Care Associates (RCCA) use the latest medical technology to diagnose cervical cancer and draw on the latest evidence-based therapies to develop and implement personalized treatment plans for the disease. With more than 20 offices conveniently located throughout New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, and the Washington, D.C., area, RCCA provides world-class cancer care close to home.
Cervical cancer occurs when irregularly formed pre-cancerous cells in the cervix become malignant and then spawn new, malignant cells. The pre-cancerous cells typically are diagnosed as cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN), squamous intraepithelial lesion (SIL), or dysplasia, depending on how abnormal the cells appear.
These pre-cancerous cells can be detected with regular Pap tests or liquid-based cytology tests, which is why regular gynecologic exams are so important. Somem ildly abnormal pre-cancerous cells can be monitored over time, while others can be treated or removed to prevent their transformation to cancerous cells. When untreated precancerous cells become malignant, a woman is diagnosed with cervical cancer.
There are three main types of cervical cancer:
Nearly 90% of cervical cancers are squamous cell carcinomas. They mainly form in the transformation zone of the cervix, where the base of the cervix meets the top portion of the vagina.
Adenocarcinomas are cancerous growths that develop from glandular cells. Cervical adenocarcinoma develops from cells in the mucus-producing glands in the cervix.
The rarest type of cervical cancer, this disease features a mixture of both squamous and adenocarcinomas.Other cancers, such as melanoma, sarcoma, and lymphoma can also occur in the cervix.
The initial identification of pre-cancerous or cancerous cells in the cervix is by a Pap smear or liquid-based cytology test. However, some symptoms may indicate the possible presence of cervical cancer and warrant prompt consultation with a physician or other appropriate healthcare professional. These include:
In addition, cervical cancer symptoms during later stages of the disease may also include:
In most cases, people displaying one or more of these symptoms do not have cervical cancer. However, all affect quality of life and may be indicative of a significant health problem – whether cervical cancer or something else – and should be brought to a physician’s attention without delay.
Women can take steps to lower their risk of developing cervical cancer, such as having routine Pap smears and exams for human papillomavirus (HPV). The HPV vaccine can prevent the viral infection from developing, which significantly lowers the likelihood of developing cervical and other types of cancers.
Risk factors for cervical cancer include:
Intercourse at a young age or with numerous partners puts a person at a higher risk of being infected with HPV, which may lead to cervical cancer.
People with weak immune systems have a higher risk of developing cervical cancer and other illnesses.
Tobacco and cigarette smokers are more likely to develop cervical cancer compared to non-smokers.
Cervical cancer is more prevalent in communities with lower socio-economic status and those with less access to information about and screening for cervical cancer.
Long-term use of oral birth control pills has been linked to cervical cancer. However, long-term use of oral contraception also has been shown to reduce the risk for ovarian cancer, so a woman should discuss the cancer-related risks and benefits of oral contraception with her healthcare provider.
Those with a family history of cervical or other cancers may have a higher chance of contracting the disease.
Early detection of cervical cancer offers the best likelihood of successful treatment. The five-year relative survival rate for a patient with cervical cancer that has not spread outside the cervix is 92%, but this percentage falls to 58% once the disease reaches nearby lymph nodes.
HPV is linked to more than 95% of all cervical cancer diagnoses. Receiving the HPV vaccine, regular Pap and HVP tests, and practicing safe sex are critical to preventing the disease from developing.
If precancerous or cancerous cells are found, they may be treated with one method or a combination of techniques, including:
Immunotherapy is a non-invasive treatment that uses the body’s immune system to eliminate cancerous cells while preserving healthy ones.
Many types of surgery, from laser surgery to radical hysterectomy, can be used to treat cervical cancer depending on the stage and progression of abnormal cell growth.
Radiation therapy involves using radioactive drugs or high-energy rays to destroy or slow the growth of cancer cells.
Targeted therapy drugs specifically focus on cancerous cells, leaving healthy ones alone. Targeted drugs are more precise than chemotherapy drugs, which also can be an option for treating advanced cases of cervical cancer.
No matter what type of cervical cancer a woman has, she will find compassionate and highly skilled physicians at Regional Cancer Care Associates. Our oncologists and hematologists treat a variety of cancers and blood disorders at multiple locations across New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, and the Washington, D.C., area. Contact us today to schedule an appointment or learn more about the different types of cervical cancer and their treatment.
Although you’re not alone in facing cervical cancer, no other woman shares your unique combination of health status, lifestyle, family situation and age. For these and many other reasons, your care at RCCA is equally unique. From your first appointment, through treatment, while managing side effects and during post-treatment care, your RCCA team will be dedicated to your very individual journey back to good health.
Leading cancer care provider Regional Cancer Care Associates (RCCA) is proud to announce that it will be adding a new location in Edison, N.J., with the joining of long-standing, Edison-based practice Oncology and Hematology Associates of Central Jersey PA into the RCCA network of facilities, effective Jan. 1, 2022.
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