Cervical cancer is mainly caused when the human papilloma virus causes abnormal cells in a woman’s cervix to grow out of control. The human papilloma virus or HPV spreads through sexual contact. While most women are able to resist HPV infection, sometimes the infection results in cancer.
In most developed nations, deaths from cervical cancer are on the decline as more and more women get their Pap tests done regularly and so cervical cancer can be diagnosed early. This is a test that helps detect any abnormality of the cervical cells and ensures women get early treatment. The chances of getting completely cured are best with early detection and treatment.
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- Symptoms of Cervical Cancer.
- How Cervical Cancer is diagnosed.
- Staging of Cervical Cancer.
- Cervical Cancer treatment.
- Cervical Cancer misdiagnosis or diagnosis issues.
- Cervical Cancer misdiagnosis compensation.
In the initial stages of cervical cancer, most women may not experience any symptoms. This is the main reason why women are advised to do regular Pap smear tests and HPV tests. With these tests, the cervical cancer can be diagnosed early, before it can advance to a more serious stage.
As cervical cancer progresses, some of the symptoms that a woman may notice include:
- Abnormal bleeding from the vagina;
- Pain during sexual intercourse;
- Foul smelling, thick or watery vaginal discharge;
- Pain in the pelvic region not associated with menstrual period;
- Pain during urination;
- Increased frequency of urination.
It is important to note that these symptoms are not solely related to cervical cancer. They can also relate to other health conditions, which is why it is important to consult your doctor immediately if you experience one or more of these symptoms.
If the doctor suspects that you have cervical cancer, they will conduct a thorough cervical examination using a colposcope. This instrument functions like a magnifying glass and allows the doctor to detect the presence of abnormal cells in the cervix.
During the examination, the doctor will also take tissue samples from the cervix and send them to the lab for further testing. The biopsy may be punch biopsy, which involves pinching off a small piece of the cervical tissue, or endo-cervical curettage, wherein small amounts of cervical tissue are scraped off using a curette.
If the biopsy results are a cause for concern, the doctor may perform any one of these procedures:
- Use an electrical wire loop to get another tissue sample from the cervix. This is done under local anaesthesia.
- Get deeper layers of the cervical tissue using cone biopsy. This is done under general anaesthesia.
Staging is an important part of cervical cancer diagnosis. The treatment protocol depends on which stage the cervical cancer is at.
- Stage I: Here the cancer cells are restricted only to the cervix.
- Stage II: The cancer has spread from the cervix to the upper reaches of the vagina.
- Stage III: The cancer has spread to the lower parts of the vagina, or to the side wall of the pelvis.
- Stage IV: The cancer has spread to neighbouring organs, including the bladder and rectum, or distal organs such as the liver, bones and lungs.
To stage the cancer, your doctor may conduct an imaging test or a visual examination.
Imaging tests may include CT scans, MRI, X-rays or PET scans. These tests reveal whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body and the extent to which it has spread.
Visual examination is done using special scopes. The doctor uses the special scopes to examine the insides of your rectum and bladder to ensure the cancer has not spread to these organs.
Treatment for cancer of the cervix depends largely on the stage of the malignancy, any health issues that you suffer from and your preference. Usually, surgery, radiation and/or chemotherapy are the preferred modes of treatment.
In early stage cancer, the oncologist will remove the uterus to prevent spread and recurrence. It may be a simple hysterectomy, where the uterus and cervix are removed or it may be radial hysterectomy, involving surgical removal of the cervix, uterus, portion of the vagina and the surrounding lymph nodes.
In this cervical cancer treatment, the malignant cells are killed using high-powered beams. Radiation can be used on its own or in conjunction with chemotherapy to help reduce the size of the cancerous tumour before it is surgically removed. You can get radiation externally, internally, or externally as well as internally.
Radiation can result in early menopause and women, who want to get pregnant, should get the doctor to preserve their eggs.
This treatment involves injecting medication in low doses to kill the malignant cells. If the cancer cannot be cured, chemotherapy is given in high doses to control the progress of the cancer.
Even after the cancerous cells are completely eliminated, it is important to continue visiting your doctor regularly for checkups. You will be informed how often you have to have a follow-up check-up and examination.
One of the most common reasons why cervical cancer is so often not diagnosed on time is because the symptoms are similar to several other non-threatening health conditions. Delay in diagnosing the cancer results in delayed treatment. When cancer is not treated in time, it progresses to an advanced stage where it can become even more difficult, and sometimes impossible to cure.
If you suffer from advanced stage cervical cancer because of delayed diagnosis or cervical cancer misdiagnosis, a failure to perform a thorough investigation or delay in referring you to an oncologist for further treatment, you may be eligible for compensation on grounds of clinical negligence.
It is always advisable to get professional legal help when filing any personal injury claim including one for cervical cancer misdiagnosis. Our solicitors can advise you regarding your rights to claim compensation but should you want us to start a cervical cancer misdiagnosis claim for you we will also agree to represent you in court without asking you to bear any expenses at any point during the claim.
You only have to pay an agreed percentage of the compensation that is paid on a successful claim. This is known as a No Win No Fee arrangement. Our personal injury solicitors use this financial arrangement to help injured parties get the compensation due to them without saddling them with any additional financial burden.