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Cervical Cancer Information

Cervical cancer is curable when diagnosed in its early stages. Invasive cervical cancer is largely preventable. The chances of death resulting from cervical cancer should be eliminated almost completely with regular Pap Smear screening and prompt medical treatment upon diagnoses.

Cervical Cancer: Preventable. Curable. Survivable.

What is Cervical Cancer?

Cervical cancer is a progressive disease process marked by a profound change in cells of the cervix. When left untreated, the cancerous changes in cervical cells leads to their uncontrolled, abnormal growth and invasion of other tissues or organs of the body. The invasion of cancerous cervical cells of other parts of the body, not surprisingly, is called "invasive cervical cancer," and can be deadly."

A very important characteristic of cervical cancer, however, is how slowly cells and tissue of the cervix develop and progresses from normal, through pre-cancerous "dysplastic" changes, to full-blown invasive cervical cancer. The slow development and progression of cervical cancer through several pre-cancerous changes is very important because it provides ample opportunity for cervical cancer prevention, early-stage diagnosis, and effective treatment.

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Cervical Cancer Risk Factors

While the cause of cervical cancer is unknown, researchers have discovered several risk factors for cervical cancer. A "risk factor" simply is anything that increases the chance of getting cervical cancer. The primary risk factor most strongly associated with the occurrence of cervical cancer is infection with certain strains of human papillomavirus (HPV). A history of HPV infection ("genital warts") is present in about 80% of the diagnosed cases of cervical cancer. Women who don't have any of the following risk factors rarely develop cervical cancer. Cervical cancer risk factors include:

  • Prior Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Infection
  • Sexual Promiscuity, Especially with Partners Infected with STD's
  • Family History of Cervical Cancer
  • Smoking
  • Multiple Full-Term Pregnancies
  • Long-Term Use of Birth Control Pills
  • Lowered Immune Function
  • Symptoms of Cervical Cancer

    Cervical cancer often is asymptomatic (does not produce any noticeable symptoms) in its early stages. For this reason, the first sign of which most women become aware indicating that they may have cervical cervical is an abnormal finding on the report of their regular Pap Smear screening test. Early-stage cervical cancer is not always asymptomatic and its symptoms may include the following:

  • Low Back Pain
  • Pain with Urination
  • Pain with Sexual Intercourse
  • Increased Menstrual Bleeding
  • Bleeding Between Periods
  • Bleeding (Spotting) After Sexual Intercourse
  • Thick, Foul Smelling Vaginal Discharge
  • Cervical cancer in its more advanced stages, that has spread from the cervix to other organs, may cause other symptoms, including the following:

  • Blood in the Urine
  • Constipation
  • Urethral Obstruction
  • Abnormal Opening in the Cervix
  • Pap Smear Screening TestPap Smear Screening Test

    Pap Smear Screening Test

    The Pap Smear test is the main screening test for the early diagnosis of cervical cancer. Pap Smear screening involves the microscopic examination of cells removed from the surface of the cervix. Although doctors obtain Pap Smears, usually during routine office exams by primary care physicians or gynecologists, they usually are not screened for cervical cancer by doctors. Instead, Pap Smear tests typically are sent to large laboratories for screening where they are inspected under a microscope by cytotechnologists, not medical doctors. Cytotechnologists screen up to 100 slides per day, searching for what may be only a few dozen abnormal cells among hundreds of thousands of normal cells on each slide.

    It should come as no surprise that it is very common for Pap Smears to be misread. The rate of false-negative Pap Smear readings is an alarming 20% according to the National Institutes of Health. Many believe the misread Pap Smear false-negative rate is much higher. When Pap Smear tests are misread and women are given false-negative results and told they are totally cancer-free, cervical cancer already may be developing and progressing. The grim truth of misread Pap Smears is that they can turn a screening test capable of preventing cervical cancer into a smoke screen enabling its development and growth without timely and proper medical treatment.

    Pap Smear Positive for Cervical CancerPap Smear Viewed Under Microscope

    Confirmation of Cervical Cancer Diagnosis

    The Pap Smear Test is a screening test. A positive Pap Smear Test suggests the existence of pre-cancerous cells or cancer of the cervix, but alone is insufficient for the diagnosis of cervical cancer. Additional testing is required to confirm the diagnosis of cervical cancer, most often colposcopy and biopsy.

    Colposcopy is a relatively simple cervical cancer diagnostic procedure in which visual examination of the cervix is accomplished using a lighted electric microscope called a "colposcope." The procedure usually takes about 10-15 minutes and is performed in a doctor's office.

    To make areas of abnormal cervical tissue easier to identify, an acetic acid rinse is applied to the cervix with a cotton swab. Acetic acid causes abnormal cervical cells/tissue the appear yellow or white.

    Next, the doctor positions the colposcope and inspects the cervix. The bright light on the colposcope makes it possible for the doctor to clearly visualize the cervix and identify areas of abnormal cervical cells/tissue and vascular patterns indicative of dysplasia.

    Adjustment of the colposcope's level of magnification and the use of color filters further aids the doctor in identifying abnormal cervical tissue indicative of cervical cancer.

    Biopsy involves the removal of cervical cells/tissue for examination under a microscope by a Pathologist. When abnormal cervical tissue is identified on colposcopy, a biopsy of the tissue is performed to determine if the abnormal tissue is cervical cancer.

    During the colposcopy, cervical tissue from areas of the cervix which appear most abnormal are removed using a long, thin biopsy instrument. A Pathologist then examines the cervical cells/tissue under a microscope to determine the nature of the abnormality identified.

    When a biopsy confirms the identification of cancerous or pre-cancerous cells in the cervical tissues biopsied, the diagnosis of cervical cancer is confirmed

    Treatment of Cervical Cancer

    The treatments available for cervical cancer vary, depending on the stage to which the cancer has progressed. In its earlier stages, cervical cancer may be treated successfully by a cone biopsy or by surgery such as a hysterectomy. The treatment of later and more advanced stages of cervical cancer may require extensive radiation and chemotherapy. These treatments may lead to serious and permanent health conditions, including radiation cystitis, radiation proctitis, radiation-induced gastrointestinal reflux disease, as well as serious side effects.

    Pap Smear and Cervical Cancer Malpractice

    Table of Contents

    (click on link to be taken to page)

    The Most Common and Deadly Pap Cervical Cancer Mistakes

  • Cervical Cancer Malpractice Introduction
  • The Cervical Cancer Malpractice Case
  • Failure to Perform Regular Cervical Exams and Pap Smear Tests
  • Misread Pap Smear Test
  • Cervical Cancer Information

  • What is Cervical Cancer?
  • Risk Factors
  • Symptoms of Cervical Cancer
  • Pap Smear Screening Test
  • Confirmation of Cervical Cancer Diagnosis
  • Treatment of Cervical Cancer
  • Pap Smear Screening Test Information

  • Pap Smear Screening Test
  • Dr. George Papanicolaou and the History of the Pap Smear Test
  • Insufficient Pap Smear Screening
  • Pap Smear Screening Test
  • Confirmation of Cervical Cancer Diagnosis
  • Failure to Diagnose Cervical Cancer on Pap Smear
  • Cervical Cancer News Information Links

  • Cervical Cancer Information Links
  • Cervical Cancer News Links Blog



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