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Cervical Cancer - Medical Malpractice
Cervical cancer is cancer which is formed in the tissues of the female cervix. The cervix is the lowest part of the uterus and is the upper part of the vagina. It contains its own types of cells which are different from the cells of the lining of the uterus and the vaginal lining. There are more than 12 thousand cases of cervical cancer each year and about 4200 of these people die each year in the US.
Cervical cancer occurs when the cells of the cervix grow out of control. The cervix is a hollow canal that connects the uterus with the vagina. It is a completely curable form of cancer if it is found in its early stages. A pap test is the test used to identify the possibility of precancerous cells and cancerous cells.
The major cause of cervical cancer is the human papilloma virus, also called the HPV virus. HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that you can get from having sex with someone who is infected with the virus. If you have genital warts, you are at a higher risk of getting the disease. You can have HPV for many years and not even know it until it results in cervical cancer. This is why pap tests and tests specifically for HPV should be done every few years to make sure you aren't at risk for advanced cancer. Not all HPV types result in later being at risk for cervical cancer.
The symptoms of cervical cancer can be minimal in the early stages. You can have no real symptoms when it is precancerous or in stage I cancer. When you have symptoms, these include bleeding from the vagina that is unassociated with a menstrual period. It can also cause a friable cervix that bleeds during sexual intercourse or getting a pap test. There can be pain during sexual activity and blood tinged vaginal discharge that may or may not be malodorous.
Cervical cancer is almost exclusively diagnosed via a pap test. In a pap test, the doctor scrapes some cells within the cervix and puts them in a solution or on a slide, after which it is looked at under the microscope. If HPV is noted or if there are precancerous/cancerous cells, doctors look more carefully. Sometimes a tissue biopsy is obtained. One type of tissue biopsy is a cone biopsy that removes much of the cervix for evaluation.
The treatment of cervical cancer is removal of the cervix and usually the uterus as well. If just a cone biopsy is done and the cancer is completely removed, they may keep the uterus so you can have children in the future. If this is not possible, a hysterectomy and removal of all pelvic lymph nodes is done so as to get rid of the cancer as much as possible. The ovaries and fallopian tubes may be removed as well.
Radiation therapy using brachytherapy or the insertion of a radioactive implant can be done. External beam radiation can be utilized as well.
Chemotherapy can be used depending on the stage of the cancer. Many times, both radiation and chemotherapy are used after surgery in higher stage cervical cancer in order to kill off the remaining cancer cells or to prolong the patient's life.
Prevention of cervical cancer includes getting regular pap tests and treatments to the cervix when there are precancerous changes or HPV changes in order to prevent progression to cervical cancer. There is also a new vaccine that contains killed HPV proteins of the major types of HPV that can cause cervical cancer. This is called Gardasil. It was originally recommended for teenagers only but has expanded to be able to be given to older women as well. Currently, those who are age 26 or younger are recommended to receive the vaccine.LEGAL HELPLINE: ☎ 855 804 7125