Of the five gynaecological cancers this is the one that I have battled. This is the cancer that has robbed me of organs, has caused me so much pain, meant I’ve been through treatment that has stripped my nervous system and left my immune system in tatters. This is the cancer that has made me want to fight to make sure every woman knows her own body and how to ensure she stays healthy ❤️ So, here we go, your very own crash course in cervical cancer:
Cervical cancer develops in a woman’s cervix (the entrance to the womb). It’s thought to mainly effect sexually active women between the ages of 30-45 and 99.7% of cervical cancer cases are caused by a high-risk strain of HPV. Cervical cancer can often hide silently, as it did with me, producing no symptoms at all while in it’s early stages however if you develop the following symptoms you must visit your doctor to be checked out:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding – such as during or after sex, in between periods or new bleeding after you have been through the menopause
- Heavier or more painful periods that may even last longer than normal
- Increased vaginal discharge or unpleasant smelling discharge
- Unexplained, persistent pelvic and/or back pain
- Pain during sex
More advanced symptoms include:
- Kidney pain
- Problems urinating
It’s important to remember that all of these things can occur for reasons completely unrelated to cancer, but they must still be properly checked out by a medical professional.
If cervical cancer is suspected you will be referred to colposcopy where you will be seen by a specialist gynaecologist. You will also be referred to colposcopy if you have an abnormal smear test result.
Colposcopy involves using a speculum (like they use in a smear test) to open the vagina and then using a small microscope with a light on the end (called a colposcope) to examine your cervix much more closely. The microscope stays outside of your body. The colposcopist may also take some biopsies of your cervix to check for cancerous cells. After a biopsy is taken you may experience period like pain and bleeding for up to six weeks afterward.
You may then be referred for further tests such as blood tests, MRI scans, CT Scans, or an X-ray, a pelvic examination done under general anaesthetic to check your womb, vagina, rectum and bladder for cancer.
Once diagnosed your case will be discussed by multiple specialists to create a plan especially for you. The team will give you their best reccommendation but the final decision will always be yours.
Very early stage cancer can be removed with a LLETZ (large loop excision of the transformation zone) This is where the cancerous cells are removed using a fine wire and an electrical current under a local anaesthetic and can be done at the same time as colposcopy. It can also be removed by a cone biopsy, performed under a general anaesthetic, a cone shaped area of abnormal tissue is removed.
For early or advanced cervical cancer the options for treatment include surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, likely in some kind of combination.
There are three different types of surgery that are used to treat cervucal cancer at its various stages
Trachelectomy – the cervix, surrounding tissue and upper part of the vagina are removed but the womb is left in place. Women who have not had and still want to try and have a family are usually offered this option.
Simple/Radical Hysterectomy – the cervix, upper part of the vaginal wall, the womb, fallopian tubes and lymph nodes in your groin and thigh areas. A Simple Hysterectomy doesn’t include the lymph nodes being removed.
If the cancer returns then you may be offered the third surgery: Pelvic exenteration which is a major operation in which the cervix, vagina, womb, ovaries, fallopiean tubes, bladder, rectum may all be removed.
This is why it is SO IMPORTANT to know your normal, notice body changes and changes to your menstrual cycle. To go for your smear tests, ensure you either get or make sure your sons and daughters get the HPV vaccine, and to look after your body. Don’t be fobbed off by GP’s, if there is something wrong keep going back, keep telling them until they listen.
If you have been affected by cervical cancer then please check out and follow Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust & The Eve Appeal for more help, support and information. All this information was checked by the NHS information and Jo’s Trust too.
#WomensCancer #CervicalCancer #GynaelogicalCancer #HPV #HPVvaccination #SmearTests #GynaecologicalCancerAwarenessMonth #GoRed #EllieFightsCancer