Early Symptoms of Cervical Cancer
According to data from WHO, there were more than 92 thousand cases of women died from cancer in 2014 and 10.3% of the figure were victims of cervical cancer (cancer develops in the cervix). The number of new cases of the condition reaches up to 21 thousand. Since 2000, cervical cancer occurs to younger patients.
Research conducted by WHO in 2014 revealed that there was lack of cancer screening in Indonesia, especially that of cervical cancer such as cervical cytology and visual inspection using acetic acid. Generally, the services have yet available at the primary health center. This condition worsens the cervical cancer mortality rate in Indonesia. Most deaths are caused by late diagnosis. Patients do not know that cancer has spread to other body parts until they check their condition. Thus, treatment becomes difficult to carry out.
Symptoms: there are no clear symptoms during early stage of cervical cancer. Abnormal vaginal bleeding and spotting is one of the common symptoms of cervical cancer. It usually occurs after sexual intercourse, between periods, or after menopause.
In addition to the abnormal bleeding, other symptoms may include unusual or unpleasant scented or pinkish, pale, brownish, or bloody vaginal discharge painful sensation during sexual intercourse and unexplained change on menstrual cycles, e.g. menstruation occurs longer than 7 days for 3 months period or longer or excessive vaginal bleeding.
Symptoms of cervical cancer may not always be clear, in some cases the symptoms are absent. Oftentimes, symptoms occur during the final stage of cancer. Therefore, it is important to take a regular Pap smear.
Cause: Almost all cervical cancer cases occur due to human papillomavirus (HPV), a group of related viruses causing warts on the hand, leg, and genital. There are many kinds of HPV, mostly are harmless. However, some may affect cervical cells, rendering them abnormal and then trigger the development of cancer. HPV is commonly transmitted through sexual intercourse and may be the reason of cervical cancer development.
Among all kinds of HPV, there are two most notorious kinds namely HPV 16 and 18. These kinds of HPV are responsible for 70% of cervical cancer cases.
Detection screening: the known screening for cervical cancer is Pap smear. It is conducted to detect the presence of abnormal cells which potentially develop into cervical cancer. Taking the screening may help preventing the disease.
During Pap smear, cells specimen is taken from the cervix and examined under microscope. Cells on the surface of cervix undergo changes over the years. These cells may gradually develop into cancerous ones.
Surgery. When diagnosis is established during early stage, surgery is conducted merely to remove the cervix. The uterus is left intact. In a more critical condition, the uterus may need to be removed completely.
Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is carried out to kill the invasive cancerous cells.
Radiotherapy. Radiotherapy is an alternative treatment for early stage cervical cancer. For certain cases, radiotherapy may also be conducted simultaneously with surgery. For advanced stage of cervical cancer, patients are usually treated with combined method of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. However, this method may incur longterm effects including premature menopause and infertility.
During August to December 2018, Prodia is working with BPJS health to conduct a free pap smear examination program. For more information, click here.