Cervical Cancer

  • Overview


    Cervical cancer is a malignant tumour in the tissues of the cervix. It most commonly begins in an area called the transformation zone, which is where two types of cells meet.

    At diagnosis, the cancer is often within the cervix, but it may have spread to tissues around the cervix (e.g. the vagina) or to other parts of the body.


    Cancer Council NSW

    Information extracted from the Cancer Council NSW website and reproduced with permission.

    http://www.cancercouncil.com.au/cervical-cancer/

    © Cancer Council NSW 2013


    Symptoms


    The early stages of cervical cancer usually have no symptoms. The only way to know if there are abnormal cells in the cervix, which may develop into cervical cancer, is to have a Pap smear.

    If symptoms are present, they usually include:

    • vaginal bleeding between periods, after menopause or after intercourse
    • pain during intercourse
    • unusual vaginal discharge
    • excessive tiredness
    • leg pain or swelling
    • lower back pain.

    Cancer Council NSW

    Information extracted from the Cancer Council NSW website and reproduced with permission.

    http://www.cancercouncil.com.au/72757/b1000/cervical-cancer-15/symptoms-of-cervical-cancer/?pp=32515&cc=9541&ct=6

    © Cancer Council NSW 2013


    Diagnosis


    Your cancer may have been diagnosed following investigations for an abnormal pap smear or following investigations into abnormal bleeding or other symptoms. Further tests are required to determine the stage of the cancer.

    • CT scan
    • MRI
    • PET scan
    • Examination under anaesthetic
  • Surgery


    Surgery is common for small tumours found only within the cervix. The extent of the cancer in the cervix will determine the type of surgery needed:

    • Cone biopsy
    • Hysterectomy
    • Trachelectomy

    Unless your cervical cancer is a very early stage you will require a pelvic lymphadenectomy which is the removal of lymph nodes in the pelvis This may cause leg swelling (lymphoedema) particularly if surgery occurs in combination with radiotherapy. For this reason investigations such as PET and MRI scan are carried out to assess whether the lymph nodes have cancer in them. If the lymph nodes appear to be affected chemoradiation will be given even for early cancers and surgery will not be required.

    Radiotherapy for cervical cancer


    Your doctor will advise you on the best treatment for the cancer. This will depend on the results of your tests, the location of the cancer and whether it has spread, your age and general health.

    The most common treatments for cervical cancer are surgery or a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

    Radiotherapy uses x-rays to kill cancer cells or injure them so they cannot multiply. The radiation is targeted at cancer sites and treatment is carefully planned to do as little harm as possible to the healthy body tissues.

    Radiotherapy is usually given if you are not well enough for a major operation or if the cancer has spread into the tissues or lymph nodes surrounding the cervix. It may also be used after surgery or in combination with chemotherapy.


    Cancer Council NSW

    Information extracted from the Cancer Council NSW website and reproduced with permission.

    http://www.cancercouncil.com.au/76999/cancer-information/cancer-treatment/types-of-treatment/radiotherapy-for-cervical-cancer/?pp=32519&cc=254&ct=6

    © Cancer Council NSW 2013


    Chemotherapy for cervical cancer


    Your doctor will advise you on the best treatment for the cancer. This will depend on the results of your tests, the location of the cancer and whether it has spread, your age and general health.

    The most common treatments for cervical cancer are surgery or a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

    Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill or slow the growth of cancer cells. The aim is to destroy fast-growing cancer cells while causing the least possible damage to healthy cells. However, some healthy, fast-growing cells in your body, such as hair and bone marrow cells, may be affected.

    Chemotherapy is usually given through a vein (intravenously). You may need to stay overnight in hospital or you may be treated as an outpatient. The number of chemotherapy sessions you have will depend on the type of cancer and what other treatment you are undergoing. If your only treatment is chemotherapy, you will probably have it up to six times every 3–4 weeks over several months. If you require chemoradiation, you will usually receive chemotherapy every week.


    Cancer Council NSW

    Information extracted from the Cancer Council NSW website and reproduced with permission.

    http://www.cancercouncil.com.au/77000/cancer-information/cancer-treatment/types-of-treatment/chemotherapy-for-cervical-cancer/?pp=32519&cc=254&ct=6

    © Cancer Council NSW 2013


    Side effects


    The side effects of chemotherapy vary according to the drugs used. You may experience nausea or vomiting, feel tired, or lose some hair from your body or head. Some women’s periods stop for a while and they may experience premature menopause.

    While you’re having treatment, the chemotherapy may also reduce the number of blood cells in your body. Depending on the type of blood cells affected, you may feel very tired and be more prone to infections such as colds and flu.

    Most side effects are temporary and there are ways to prevent or reduce them. Tell your medical team if you experience side effects.

2017 Quality Statement


“Excellence in Care”

The provision of excellent care to Riverina Cancer Care Centre (RCCC) patients is achieved by Centre staff and Volunteers’ participation in and observance of the Centre’s Quality system in the performance of their roles. Cooperation, collaboration, communication and mutual respect are critical to provision of excellent care.

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