Danger of cervical cancer – health information

Danger cervix cancer

Recognized early, the cervical carcinoma can be treated well.

(dbp / fru) According to the current brochure “Cancer in Germany” of the Robert Koch Institute in 2012, approximately 4,600 women nationwide contracted cervical cancer (medically cervical cancer). This cancer affects the connection between the lower part of the uterus and the vagina. In contrast, in uterine cancer “only” the uterine body is affected. “A prerequisite for the development of cervical cancer is a contagion and long-term infection with certain cancer-causing human papillomavirus (HPV),” the “gynecologists on the net” communicate.

Even with slight complaints to the doctor

Since cervical cancer usually develops unnoticed and causes no typical symptoms, the diagnosis is often made quite late. According to the cancer information service of the German Cancer Research Center, the first signs of a disease can be vaginal discharge, bleeding after intercourse, outside the menstrual cycle or after menopause. However, such symptoms can also occur with inflammation or benign growth. A clarification at the gynecologist should take place nevertheless. If there is pain in the region of the pelvis, pelvic or bowel movements, or lymphatic pressure in the legs, it may be an indication for advanced cervical cancer. In such cases, the gynecologist should urgently be consulted.

In practice, the vagina and cervix can then be illuminated with a special examination microscope (colposcope) to reveal the smallest tissue defects, tumors and bleeding. “When colposcopy is suspected of causing a malignant change in the cervix, tissue removal becomes inevitable (usually conization),” explain the “gynecologists on the net”. In this small, relatively uncomplicated procedure, a shallower or steeper cone is surgically removed from the cervix in the hospital under short general anesthesia, followed by a fine-tissue and microscopic examination in the laboratory. In the procedure there is always a scoring of the lining of the uterus (curettage) in order to exclude a possible extension of the malignant changes to the interior of the uterus.

Operation is the means of choice

In the early stages, the conization is usually enough to completely remove the altered tissue. Otherwise, further surgical methods come into question. In many cases, the uterus can be completely or partially preserved. This is especially important for women who still have a desire to have children. A complete removal of the uterus only has to be done if the cancer has already penetrated into deeper layers of tissue – possibly also lymphatic drainage channels as well as correspondingly affected lymph nodes have to be removed. Supportive treatment and chemotherapy can also be used.

However, that does not have to happen if women regularly take precautionary measures. In Germany, every woman over the age of 20 is given a simple cell smear test of the cervix once a year (so-called “Pap test”). It can detect cell changes and precancerous lesions on the cervix even before cervical cancer develops. In addition, gynecologists with the HPV vaccine offer a way to generally reduce the risk of cervical cancer. Experts recommend the vaccine before the first sexual intercourse.

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Christina Cherry
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