Cancer is defined as an abnormal growth or mutation of cells in the body.
Cervical cancer is a very common type of cancer that affects a woman's reproductive organs. About 15,000 women in the United States alone are diagnosed with some form of cervical cancer on a yearly basis.
Cancer screening in the form of Pap tests are one of the most common methods used to detect early signs of cervical cancer as well as other cancers of the female reproductive system, including ovarian cancer. In the event of testing positive for cervical cancer cells, a variety of treatment options are available.
Treatment for Cervical Cancer will be determined by a cancer specialist called an oncologist, or a specialist in OB/GYN who also specializes in cancer treatments and therapies. There are two different types of cervical cancer: noninvasive or limited cancer, or invasive cancers.
Treatment of Nonvasive or Limited Cervical Cancer
For this treatment, several options may include:
Laser surgery - a laser beam of high and intense light is focused on the cancerous or precancerous cells, effectively killing them and preventing their spread.
Biopsy - also known as cone biopsy or colonization, a physician will to remove a circular or cone-shaped section of cervical tissue where the cancerous cells or abnormalities are found, through the use of a scalpel.
Cryosurgery - a tool that causes freezing of cellular tissues is inserted into the vagina to freeze and destroy precancerous or cancerous cells found in the cervix.
LEEP -also known as loop electrosurgical excision procedure, this tool utilizes a wire loop that permits an electrical current to pass through the loop to excise and remove suspicious cells from the cervix.
In the event that cancer cells found in the cervix have extended deeper into the tissues of the cervix, a doctor will decide between surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or a combination of all three to treat the cancer, depending on the stage and severity of the cancer spread upon diagnosis.
Surgery - the most common treatment, involves the removal of the uterus in a process called a hysterectomy. A hysterectomy is usually the first step for treating early stages of cervical cancer. Hysterectomies may be called simple or radical depending on the amount of cancerous cell growth and amount of organ structures that may be removed.
Radiation -radiation therapy involves the external use of high beam energy light rays (called external beam radiation) focused over the area of the body affected by cancerous cell growth. Radioactive pellets may be inserted into the body to work internally in a form of radiation called brachytherapy.
Chemotherapy - utilizes anti-cancer drugs medications that kill cancer cells, injected in IV (intravenous) solutions in a vein. Two of the most common drugs used to treat cervical cancer are called cisplatin and Hycamtin (generic topotecan). Chemotherapy is often combined with radiation therapy to improve prognosis, and at times surgery, radiation and chemotherapy will be recommended for optimal outcome prognosis.
Patients should look for experience, training, and that the specialist (oncologist) of their choice has been board-certified in specific areas of medicine. The physician who is board-certified in medical oncology or surgery will ensure their qualifications in their field.
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