BEATING CERVICAL CANCER
Fortunately, cervical cancer is curable! Treatments are largely successful and patients walk away cancer free, but that doesn't mean it's easy. Cancer is a battle, and no one should have to fight through it alone. Family and friends are often an enormous help but when they don't know how there is support and information out there for all of you to be more prepared. Support groups, forums, medical professionals, public speakers, meet-up events, lifestyle clubs, athletics and recreation, religious organizations, and more can help you find the physical, mental, and emotional assistance you need to beat your cancer. Some can even help you to connect with women who are going through, or have been through, exactly what you're dealing with! No one fights alone.
CERVICAL CANCER-- SURVIVORS
STAGES OF CERVICAL CANCER
Stage 0 or pre-cancer is the growth of abnormal cells on the cervix. This is usually first diagnosed using a Pap test.
Invasive tumor that is up to 4cm in diameter and confined to the cervix. Usually diagnosed with microscopy or imaging of a visible tumor.
Locoregional (close to the original site) spreading of the tumor beyond the cervix into the uterus and immediately surrounding tissues. Does not invade pelvic wall or more than 2/3 of the vagina.
Cancer spreading beyond immediate tissues into lower third of the vagina and/or into the pelvic sidewall. Can also impact renal system and invade ureter.
Cancer has spread beyond the pelvis. Most commonly invading the renal system and colon/rectum. Can cause organ damage and failure.
CERVICAL CANCER TREATMENT OPTIONS
Treatment using extreme cold to kill cancer cells. Primarily used to treat stage 0 cancers. Side effects can be peripheral tissue damage or dermal cell death around the site of treatment.
LOOP ELECTROSURGICAL EXCISION PROCEDURE (LEEP)
An electrosurgical generator (small wire loop) is used to heat cells and cut away affected tissues and local anesthetic is used to minimize pain. The goal is to remove all abnormal cells from the cervix and analyze them for their potential to recur. This technique can be used on stage 0 cancers or when abnormal cancerous lesions begin to develop. Often a preventative measure for at risk patients positive for cancerous types of HPV.
Also called radiation therapy, radiotherapy uses high energy waves (x-rays) to kill cancer cells. The method can be used on early or late stage cancers and can be external radiotherapy or internal radiotherapy. Often this treatment method is coupled with chemotherapy to have the best results.
Side effects are usually minor but can include swelling, bowel and bladder problems, and skin damage.
Minimally invasive surgery, such as conization, can be performed on early stage cancers. On later stage cancers a simple hysterectomy, removal of the cervix and uterus, or a radical hysterectomy, removal of the cervix, uterus, and part of the vagina and lymph nodes can be performed.
Complex surgeries are usually a last resort as they result in the inability to get pregnant.
Uses intravenous (IV) medications to kill cancer cells. Treatments using chemotherapy are usually scheduled in rounds with breaks in between to reduce the side effects from the circulation of the drugs through the body. Often lower doses of chemotherapeutics are combined with other treatments like radiation in order to increase their efficacy. Chemotherapy in larger doses are usually used on later stage cervical cancer.