Cervical Cancer Treatment in India
Cervix is the lower narrower portion of the uterus that connects to the vagina. When an abnormal growth of cells starts to form in the cervix, it turns into cervical cancer. The sexually transmitted infection, human papillomavirus (HPV) is the main cause of cervical cancer. When the body comes in contact with HPV the immune system naturally stops the virus from doing any harm in the body. But in some cases the virus remains dormant for a long time, suddenly causing harm by transforming cervical cells into cancerous cells. One can avoid the risk of developing cervical cancer by getting screening tests at the earliest stage or by receiving vaccine that protects against HPV infection.
In the starting stages of cervical cancer there will be no visible symptoms however, when the cancer progresses to advance stages certain visible symptoms start to occur such as –
- Vaginal bleeding after intercourse, between periods or after menopause.
Watery, bloody vaginal discharge that may be heavy and have a foul odor.
Pelvic pain or pain during intercourse.
Causes & Types of Cervical Cancer?
Cervical cancer basically occurs because of the virus named human papillomavirus (HPV). It is a sexually transmitted virus which is transferred to the female body through an unprotected sexual contact with the male partner who is infected. Some added risk factors that cause cervical cancer are- weak immune system, too much smoking, multiple pregnancies and oral contraceptives.
There are two main types of cervical cancer –
- Squamous cell carcinoma – This is the type of cervical cancer that develops in the flat, thin cells named squamous cells that form the outer lining of the cervix. Majority of the cervical cancers are a form of squamous cells carcinomas.
- Adenocarcinoma – This type of cervical cancer develops in the column-shaped glandular cells that form the lining of the cervical canal.
In some rare cases both types of cervical cancers are present in the patient.
Steps Involved in Diagnosis of Cervical Cancer
In the first stage of diagnosis certain tests are lined up to be conducted on the patient such as-
- PAP smear test
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA test
- Blood test
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Computed tomography (CT scan)
- Pelvic ultrasound
Once all of the above mentioned tests are conducted and the diagnosis has been confirmed the doctors chart out a proper treatment plan which is later conveyed to the patient. During the process a thorough physical examination is conducted on the patient, including the pelvic examination. In the procedure of pelvic examination two gloved and lubricated fingers are inserted in the vagina to check for any sort of abnormal growth and lumps in the uterus. This test helps in identifying the exact area of location of the cancerous growth including the shape and size of it.
How is The Treatment Procedure Performed?
Treatment of cervical cancer has got a good success rate if the cancer gets detected and cured on time. The farther the cancer cells have damaged the tissues the more it becomes difficult to treat the cancer. There are different types of treatment for cervical cancer; the selection largely depends on the stage of the cancer, patient’s age and overall stability of the health.
Some of the most used cervical treatment options are-
This is the first step of cervical cancer prevention. The women who are sexually active are enrolled for a program of getting HPV vaccination which can by far reduce the rate of cervical cancer.
To entirely remove the cancerous cells from the cervix, it is mandatory to perform a surgery. There are different types of surgeries available to cure cervical cancer such as –
- Cryosurgery – In this surgery, a metal probe of an extremely freezing temperature is directly placed on the cancerous growth in the cervix. In this method the cancer cells are killed by freezing them.
- Laser surgery – In this method, a focused high-intensity laser beam is directly projected through the vagina which vaporizes the abnormal growth of cancerous cells.
- Cervical Conization – A thin wire or a surgical or laser knife is heated to high temperatures with the help of electricity and then it is used to remove the cells that are cancerous.
- Total hysterectomy – This procedure includes the complete removal of uterus and cervix but the surrounding structures such as uterosacral ligaments, parametria, pelvic lymph nodes and vagina are not removed. Some of the different types of hysterectomy are –
- (a) – Abdominal hysterectomy (abdomen incision)
- (b) –Vaginal hysterectomy (the uterus is removed through the vagina)
- (c) –Laparoscopic hysterectomy (keyhole surgery by laparoscope)
- (d) –Robotic hysterectomy (laparoscopy attached to robotic arms)
- Radical hysterectomy – In this type of hysterectomy also the entire uterus is removed but the surrounding tissues are also removed along with it. In some cases even the upper part of the vagina that is next to the cervix is also removed.
- Radical trachelectomy – In this type of surgery the cervix and upper part of the vagina is removed but the body of the uterus remains intact. This surgery does not hamper the ability of the women to have a child.
- Radiation therapy – This treatment involves the projection of high energy X-rays or radioactive particles directly on the cancerous cells to destroy them completely. Radiation therapy can be performed both as internally and even externally to the pelvis.
- Chemotherapy – This is a comparatively very strong therapy in which anti-cancer medicines are used to kill all the cancer cells. In this the cytotoxic type of medicines are used that are highly effective in killing the cancer cells by entering into the bloodstream and reaching all the parts of the body.
What is The Duration of Recovery?
The overall recovery duration after the cervical cancer treatment extends for a long time. You will have to remain in the hospital for a week’s time after which you will be discharged, required to come regularly for follow-up visits.
Even after the recovery certain steps needs to be followed to avoid further risk of developing cervical cancer again –
- Stop smoking.
- Undergo screening at regular intervals.
- Eat well.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Stay physically active.
- Take medications or supplements as advised by the doctor.
Cost of Cervical Cancer Treatment in India
The cost of the cervical cancer treatment in India starts from $2500 USD and goes up according to the condition of patient.