Scheduling routine Pap smears with a gynecologist is important. The doctor collects cells from inside the cervix, which are then lab-tested to identify any abnormalities. This could include the presence of cancer cells. Here are answers to common questions about cervical cancer, so you can be more informed about your health.
4 FAQ About Cervical Cancer
What is cervical cancer?
Cervical cancer refers to the origin of the disease, which in this case is mutated cells lining the cervix. Glandular cells cover the cervix opening, while squamous cells cover the outer portion. The transformation zone, which is the area where these two types of cells connect, is often where the cells begin to grow uncontrollably, leading to cancer. The cancer cells attack surrounding tissue.
How does it develop?
A long-lasting infection with certain strains of human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common cause of cervical cancer. The virus infects squamous cells in the cervix. The virus is contracted during sexual intercourse. During the pre-cancer stage, the growing cells haven't attacked the surrounding tissue. This is also the case with the next two stages: I and IIA. With the advanced stages (IIB and IVA), the cancer has spread to the vagina, bladder, or pelvic tissue. In the final stage, IVB, the cancer has spread to other internal organs.
Is it dangerous?
A person's chance of overcoming the disease increases when it is caught early. Beyond scheduling regular gynecological exams, you should also keep note of any changes to your vaginal health. This includes bleeding after intercourse, bloody discharge, or pelvic discomfort. If you experience any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with your OB-GYN, so they can determine the cause.
How is it detected and treated?
Pre-cancer and cancer cells are often identified during Pap smears. A physician uses a swab to gather cells from inside the cervix. A doctor might also screen for HPV, as the virus could cause cell mutations later. Your doctor might also take a biopsy of the tissue and order imaging test to see if the cells have spread. Cervical cancer is treated surgically, with the cancerous part of the cervix, the entire cervix, or the cervix and uterus removed.
For a Pap smear and other gynecological services, contact Greece OB-GYN, LLP. Serving residents of the Rochester, NY, community for decades, the gynecologists are committed to treating patients like family and provide routine examinations, robotic surgery, and additional OB-GYN services to protect their reproductive health. Call (585) 225-6680 to make an appointment, and download patient forms online.