Living With Cervical Cancer: A Physician's Guide for Patients and Survivors - Infiuss Health

Living With Cervical Cancer: A Physician's Guide for Patients and Survivors

Cervical cancer simply means the changes that occur in the cells lining the cervix that can make them grow uncontrollably. Read on to learn more.

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Dr. Peace Chikezie

02 Feb 2024

Table of Content


  • Overview

  • What causes cervical cancer 

  • Understanding the Stages of Cervical Cancer

  • Cervical Cancer treatment options

  • Living with cervical can

  • Be a part of the solution

  • Faqs


Overview

Have you been diagnosed with cervical cancer? I know that hearing this news can be overwhelming and scary.

If you are a cervical cancer survivor, I also know that it has been a challenging and emotional road for you.

I want to assure you that you're not alone, and there are millions of people going through this journey with you. We are here to help you by providing you with a guide. 

This guide will explain the cause, staging, treatment options, and how to live with cervical cancer.

What Causes Cervical Cancer?

To start, let's talk about what cervical cancer is and how it arises. 

It all begins with changes in the DNA(Deoxyribonucleic acid) of healthy cells lining your cervix. This DNA controls how your cells function, and these changes tell them to multiply uncontrollably. This overgrowth of cells can form a mass (tumor) and potentially invade surrounding tissues. That mass is Cervical cancer. In some cases, these cells can even break away and spread to other parts of the body.

Now, the vast majority of cervical cancers are linked to the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a common virus spread through skin-to-skin contact, often during sexual activity. While most people clear the virus naturally, it can cause cell changes in some individuals, potentially leading to cancer.

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Understanding the Stages of Cervical Cancer

I know you're probably wondering what comes next. 

Let's talk about the staging of cervical cancer.

Why is it important to know how cervical cancer is staged? Because knowing the stage gives you a clearer picture of your situation and options for fighting the disease.

Stage 1 Cervical Cancer:

  • This is the earliest stage, where the cancer is small and contained within the cervix.

  • It's often caught through regular Pap smears and hasn't spread to other tissues.

Stage 2 Cervical Cancer:

  • The cancer has moved beyond the cervix and uterus but hasn't yet reached the pelvic wall or lower vagina.

  • This stage may or may not involve nearby lymph nodes.

Stage 3 Cervical Cancer:

  • Cancer has spread to the lower vagina and may have further progressed to:

    •     Pelvic wall tissues

    •     Ureter tubes (carrying urine)

    •     Nearby lymph nodes

Stage 4 Cervical Cancer:

Stage four cervical cancer is the most advanced stage, where the cancer has spread beyond the pelvic area to:

  •      Bladder

  •      Rectum

  •      Distant organs like bones or lungs

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Cervical Cancer Treatment Options

The good news is that cervical cancer is highly treatable, especially when caught early.

The specific treatment plan will depend on several factors, such as the stage and type of your cancer, your overall health, and your personal preferences. 

We'll discuss all the options available to you and how you can cope. 

When it comes to cervical cancer treatment, first, remember that every person's situation is unique, and the recommended treatment plan will depend on several factors specific to you, such as:

  • Stage of your cancer: Early-stage cancers have different treatment options than advanced stages.

  • Your age and overall health: Certain treatments might be more suitable based on your circumstances.

  • Future fertility plans: If you wish to have children, some treatments might affect your fertility.

cervical cancer patient recieving treatment

Now, let's learn more about the main treatment options for cervical cancer:

1. Surgery:

  • Early-stage: In early stages, surgery is often the preferred approach. This may involve removing the cervix, uterus, and surrounding tissues.

  • More advanced stages: Surgery might still be used in combination with other treatments like radiation or chemotherapy.

2. Radiation therapy:

  • High-powered energy beams target and kill cancer cells.

  • External beam radiation: A machine outside your body directs radiation at the cancer.

  • Brachytherapy: Radiation sources are placed inside or near the cervix.

3. Chemotherapy:

  • There are chemotherapy drugs for cervical cancer that kill the cancer cells throughout your body.

  • Often given in cycles with breaks in between.

  • May be combined with other treatments.

4. Targeted therapy:

  • Drugs target specific proteins that help cancer cells grow and spread.

  • A newer and more precise approach.

5. Immunotherapy:

  • Boosts your immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells.

  • A promising treatment option for some types of cervical cancer.

6. Clinical trials:

  • Research studies testing new and potential treatments.

  • Participation is voluntary and requires careful consideration.

  • You could also choose to participate in giving your information /data describing your experiences in our questionnaire below.  This could greatly contribute to research studies and improve cervical cancer treatment. 

Want to be part of the solution?

Join over thousands of participants in Infiuss Health’s research community and respond to a quick questionnaire, will take 2 mins only!

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Living with Cervical Cancer

a cancer patient feeling depressed

Living with cervical cancer goes beyond just treatment. Let's talk about the emotional, physical, and practical aspects of living well with this condition.

Coping with the Emotional Impact

  • Facing your emotions: A cancer diagnosis can trigger a rollercoaster of emotions: fear, anger, sadness, and uncertainty. It's perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed. Sharing your feelings with trusted friends, family, or a therapist can provide valuable support.

    a cervical cancer patient getting support from friend

  • Support groups: Connecting with others who understand your journey can be incredibly empowering. Consider joining a cervical cancer support group or online community to find solace and share experiences. For instance, you can join the Infiuss Health community of people living with cervical cancer who have shared their data /experiences for the improvement of healthcare.

  • Professional help: Don't hesitate to seek professional help if you're struggling to cope. Therapists can equip you with coping mechanisms and emotional support to navigate this challenging time.

Maintaining Quality of Life

  • Physical well-being: Prioritize healthy habits like regular exercise, nutritious meals, and adequate sleep. These practices strengthen your body and mind, improving your overall well-being and energy levels.

  • Managing intimacy: Cancer can affect your sex life, but intimacy can still be a fulfilling part of your life. Talk openly with your partner about your concerns and explore options like intimacy aids or couples therapy to adapt and maintain physical closeness.

    cancer survivors are strong

Remember, cancer is a part of your journey, but it doesn't define you. Continue pursuing your hobbies, spending time with loved ones, and engaging in activities that bring you joy.

Follow-up and Surveillance

  • Regular check-ups: Following your doctor's recommended follow-up schedule is crucial for monitoring for recurrence and ensuring long-term health. These visits involve tests like Pap smears and scans to detect any potential changes.

  • Living with uncertainty: The possibility of recurrence can cause anxiety, but it's important to focus on the present. Enjoy each day, celebrate small victories, and trust in your care team's vigilance.

 

Be a part of the solution 

Your insights matter. By taking a few minutes to complete this short questionnaire, you can help researchers and AI developers understand your needs and experiences better and create the best solution for you and others like you.

Remember:

  • Your answers are confidential and anonymous.

  • The questionnaire takes just a few minutes to complete.

  • Every voice counts – yours included!

Want to be part of the solution?

Join over thousands of participants in Infiuss Health’s research community and respond to a quick questionnaire, will take 2 mins only!

Click here to Access the Questionnaire


Cervical Cancer FAQs

1. What does cervical cancer discharge look like?

Changes in vaginal discharge are not a reliable symptom of cervical cancer. It can vary greatly from person to person and may resemble normal menstrual discharge, be watery or bloody, or have a foul odor. If you experience any changes in your discharge, especially if it's persistent or accompanied by other symptoms like pelvic pain or bleeding between periods, consult your doctor promptly.

2. Can your cervix be removed?

It can vary greatly from person to person and may resemble normal menstrual discharge, be watery or bloody, or have a foul odor. If you experience any changes in your discharge, especially if it's persistent or accompanied by other symptoms like pelvic pain or bleeding between periods, consult your doctor promptly.

3. Can you have sex with cervical cancer?

Yes, you can have sex with cervical cancer if you feel comfortable and it doesn't cause pain. Some treatments might affect sexual function, and your doctor can advise you on any precautions or adjustments needed based on your specific situation and treatment plan.

4. Can you see cervical cancer on ultrasound?

Yes. While transvaginal ultrasound can detect some abnormalities in the cervix, it's not always definitive for diagnosing cervical cancer. Pap smears, biopsies, colonoscopy, etc remain the primary diagnostic tools.

5. Can you have kids with cervical cancer?

The possibility of having children after cervical cancer depends on several factors, including the stage and treatment options chosen. Discuss your fertility concerns with your doctor, as they can advise on potential impacts and fertility preservation options if applicable.

6. Can an IUD cause cervical cancer?

No, there is no evidence that using an IUD increases the risk of cervical cancer. In fact, studies suggest that IUDs might offer some protective benefits against cervical cancer.

7. Are there foods to eat to prevent cervical cancer?

No single food can directly prevent cervical cancer. However, maintaining a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can contribute to overall well-being and potentially reduce the risk of various health conditions, including some cancers.

8. How many rebounds of chemo for cervical cancer?

The number of chemotherapy cycles needed for cervical cancer depends on the stage, type, and other individual factors. Your doctor will personalize the treatment plan and determine the optimal number of cycles for your specific case.

Want to be part of the solution?

Join over thousands of participants in Infiuss Health’s research community and respond to a quick questionnaire, will take 2 mins only!

Click here to Access the Questionnaire


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