Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month 2022
What is the cervix?
The cervix is the neck of the uterus and connect the uterus to the vagina.
It opens to enable a baby to leave your uterus during childbirth.
Symptoms of cervical cancer
Bleeding between periods
Bleeding during and after sex
Bleeding after the menopause
Changes to your usual bleeding such as heavier than usual periods
Changes to your vaginal discharge
Back or abdomen pain
Pain during sex
It is important to note that having these symptoms does not mean you have cervical cancer as they are also symptoms of other benign conditions such as fibroids and endometriosis. It is best to get check out by a professional to rule out cancer and treat the cause of your symptoms.
What causes cervical cancer?
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus that can cause cervical cancer as it can change the cells in the cervix, which can develop into cervical cancer.
However, HPV is common and having HPV does not necessarily mean you will get cervical cancer.
Low risk types of HPV include harmless growths such as warts, and high risk HPV may cause cancer to develop, although research shows having high risk HPV is not enough on its own for cervical cancer to develop.
Current research suggests that high risk HPV alongside the below factors may increase your risk:
If you have had sex with multiple partners
If you are under 45
If you have been pregnant and given birth
Can I prevent cervical cancer?
Cervical cancer can often be prevented by attending cervical screening tests as they find and treat changes to the cells in the cervix before they become cancerous.
You may also lower your risk by not smoking, eating a healthy balanced diet and using condoms.
What are the tests to diagnose cervical cancer?
If abnormal cells have been found in your cervix you will be referred for a colposcopy.
Your consultant gynaecologist will insert a speculum and a small microscope with a light at the end so they can take a close look at your cervix. A biopsy may be taken to send for analysis.
If you have been told you have cervical cancer, you may require further tests to determine the grading and stage of the cancer. The further tests may include blood tests, CT scans and MRI scans.
Your treatment plan will depend on the size of your cancer.
You will most likely have surgery which may entail:
removing part of the affected cervix
removing the whole cervix and upper part of the vagina
a hysterectomy to remove the cervix and uterus
a hysterectomy to remove the cervix, uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes
You may also need your lymph nodes removed to prevent the cancer spreading.
Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy
If you have cancer you will be put under the care of an Oncologist team. Chemotherapy uses medicine to destroy cancer cells and radiotherapy uses radiation to destroy the cells.
Visit Jo's Trust for more information on cervical cancer and support available
How do I book a consultation?
You can book a consultation with Evi Bakali via her secretary or direct with Spire Healthcare.
Appointments are available via private medical insurance or paying for yourself. Click here for the most up to date self funding fees and for private medical insurance information.