In India, Cervical Cancer is one of the commonest cancers in women of the reproductive age group. About 122000 new cases are detected every year and 67000 will die from the disease! In India every 7 minutes there is 1 death from cervical cancer. The commonest age group is 45 – 55 yrs.
Cervical cancer is the only cancer which is caused by an infective agent – Human Papilloma Virus. There is almost a 100% association of cancer causing HPV with cervical cancer, which means that cervical cancer will not be caused in the absence of HPV infection. Of the various types of HPV, types 16, 18, 31, 33 and 45 commonly cause cervical cancer. This infection is acquired sexually but may not require the actual act of coitus to contract this infection – as it can be transmitted by hand to genital touch. Condoms are known to reduce but not eliminate the risk of cervical cancer.
HPV infection is very common and about 1 in 5 women will have HPV. However, most women manage to get rid of the HPV on their own. It is in those that HPV persists, changes in the cervical cells take place and may slowly over a period of 15 – 20 years convert into cancer.
HPV infection does not produce any symptoms. Cervical cancer however may lead to foul-smelling vaginal discharge, bleeding after intercourse or bleeding after menopause.
Cervical cancer is staged clinically. There are 4 stages I to IV. Stage I upto IIA is early stage and surgery is often an option. Late stage is requires Radiotherapy while if there is spread of cancer to liver, lungs etc – Stage IVB – chemotherapy may be required.
Treatment decisions are often taken through a Tumour Board. The success and completeness of surgery depends on whether a trained gynaecological oncologist undertakes the surgery. The surgery does not involve a simple removal of the uterus – it requires removal of tissue on either side of the cervix (called parametrium) and a thorough removal of pelvic lymph glands. This entire procedure is called a Radical Hysterectomy with pelvic node dissection. The ovaries may or may not be removed.
Contact us for any sort of complicated cervical cancer issues here in Kolkata.