Tests for early detection of cervical cancer includes,
Pap test -
Also known as Pap smear test, the doctor scrapes and brushes out some cells from the cervix (mouth of
uterus), which are sent for examination in a laboratory for detecting abnormalities.
This test can detect presence of abnormal cells in the cervix, which may include cancer cells and other atypical cells that may turn cancerous later.
HPV DNA test -
This test involves studying cells which are collected from the cervix for infection caused by HPV (which are likely to lead to cervical cancer). This test is suitable for women aged above 30 or for younger women who has shown an abnormal Pap test.
If cervical cancer is suspected through screening tests, the doctor gets into thorough examination of cervix to confirm cervical cancer diagnosis.
Punch biopsy -
a sharp tool is used to pinch off a small sample of cervical tissue cells
Endocervical curettage -
using a small instrument or a thin brush, tissues are scrapped from cervix If punch biopsy or endocervical curettage results come out worrisome, the doctor may perform below any of the following tests,
Electrical wire loop -
this uses a thin, low-voltage electrical wire to take out a small sample of tissue. This is usually done under local anaesthesia.
Cone biopsy -
this allows doctor to obtain deeper layers of cervical cells for detailed testing in laboratory. This is done under general anaesthesia.
Cervical cancer treatment depends on factors such as stage of cancer and other health issues problems. Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation - a combination or single modality among these can be used for the treatment.
Cervical cancer in its early stage is classically treated with a surgery where the uterus is removed (hysterectomy). This surgery can finally cure early stage cervical cancer and eliminates chances of recurrence. Hysterectomy is of two types
Simple hysterectomy -
Cervix and uterus are completely removed
Radical hysterectomy -
Cervix, uterus, some part of vagina and nearby lymph nodes are removed
This uses high power energy beams of X-rays, which kills cancer cells. Radiation therapy can be used alone or along with chemotherapy before performing the surgery. This shrinks the tumour.
Radiotherapy can be given in two ways -
- Internally - a device filled with radioactive material is placed inside the vagina, for only a few minutes (brachytherapy)
- Externally - an x ray radiation beam is directed at the affected area
- Sometimes it is done in both ways - externally and internally
As a side effect to radiation therapy, premenopausal women may stop their menstruation and may enter menopause.
Chemotherapy is usage of medications, typically injected through a vein. Low doses of chemotherapy are usually combined along with radiation therapy to enhance the effects of the radiation.