The death rates associated with cervical cancer have come down tremendously, thanks to the awareness of modern day women and the inception of Pap smear. The treatment methods that are used for pre cancerous stages of cervical cancer and also in the early stages are very competent and show an almost 100% success rate. All these make cervical cancer a disease that can be treated completely, provided it is detected early. Now the big question is to how we can detect the presence of abnormal cells in your cervix.
Given below are some guidelines to follow if you want to stay away from the disease and also suspect that you have cervical cancer.
Make an appointment with your doctor if you find any abnormal responses in your body like increased vaginal bleeding or discharge that may have a distinct smell, lower abdominal pain, general weakness etc. Regular tests will help you detect the cancer early on. This is recommended for all women who are sexually active, especially those with multiple sex partners get tested regularly for cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is most often caused by HPV which is transmitted through sexual contact.
A simple pelvic examination undertaken by the doctor will help him/her identify any symptoms that require further investigation. Your doctor will insert his/her finger inside the vagina to feel the cervix and press your abdomen as well to look for any signs that have to be inspected further. If your doctor suspects that something is amiss, he/she will ask for a Pap test which can identify abnormal cells inside the cervix. A pap smear is done by inserting a speculum into the cervix through the vagina and taking samples from the cervical tissue by scraping the cervical walls.
If the Pap smear shown abnormal tissues, a colposcopy may be suggested by the doctor wherein a colposcope, a device with a light and a magnifier is inserted inside the vagina to get a closer look at the cervical tissues and identify any lesions that could be present as well. Finally, if lesions are found, you might have to go for tissue analysis which involves several procedures. Your doctor may indicate the procedure that has to be followed by you. A traditional biopsy is what is normally recommended wherein the tissues from the suspected abnormal cells are extracted and send for testing.
Another method of tissue analysis involves using a metal wire that is electrically charged for cutting a portion of the cervix. This too will be send for testing for abnormal cells. Endocervical curettage involves the use of an instrument shaped like a spoon for scooping out a part of the cervical tissue through the vaginal canal.
Cone biopsy is used both as a treatment for stage 0 cervical cancer and also for taking larger areas of tissue from the cervix for testing. Cone biopsy is the only treatment sometimes recommended for stage 0 where the areas affected will be removed in a cone shape using a laser knife or surgical knife or an electrically charged wire.