Cervical cancer

Cervical cancer occurs in the cells of the cervix – the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. Various strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection, play a role in causing most cervical cancer. You can reduce your risk of developing cervical cancer by having screening tests and practicing “safe sex”. Young women receiving a vaccine that protects against HPV infection reduces the risk of cervical cancer, as well as reducing the risk of other associated HPV cancer involving the oral cavity and perianal skin.

Treatments for cervical cancer

Treatment depends on the stage of your cancer. There are several general approaches:

  • For the earliest stages of cervical cancer, either surgery alone, or radiation combined with chemotherapy may be used.
  • For later stages, radiation combined with chemotherapy is usually the main treatment.
  • For more advanced cancers, chemotherapy is often used with targeted radiation therapy. Participation in a clinical trial may also be an option.

No one treatment is best for everyone. Consulting with a doctor who specializes in this area can help obtain an optimal outcome for the patient’s condition.

Biologic therapy
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This procedure uses your body's immune system to fight your cancer. This is done by either stimulating your immune system to attack cancer cells or by introducing agents it needs, like antibodies, to kill them.

Chemotherapy
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This well-known cancer treatment uses medicines taken intravenously or by mouth to kill cancer cells throughout the body. Chemotherapy may be given before surgery to shrink tumors, or after to fight cancer cells that have potentially spread.

Cryotherapy
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Cryosurgery is used to treat cancer at a non-invasive level. A metal probe cooled with liquid nitrogen kills abnormal cells by freezing them. Cryosurgery can be done in a doctor's office or clinic.

Hormone blockers
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Because estrogen and testosterone help some tumors grow, hormone inhibitors can block them and prevent tumor growth.

Intensity-modulated radiation
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IMRT is an advanced form of radiation that uses external beams mapped to the exact shape of the tumor. The strength of beams can be adjusted. It is delivered from multiple directions to protect normal tissue nearby.

Pap test
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A test that checks the cells of the cervix for any changes that might result in cancer.

Stereotactic radiation therapy
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Non-invasive, radiation therapy directed at the tumor. The stereotactic technique minimizes radiation from affecting normal tissue.

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