Cervical cancer treatment
Cervical cancer treatment is aimed at preventing cancerous cells from developing further and spreading.
This is usually a step-by-step process, involving the removal of cells or tissue to diagnose cancer and to find out how far it has invaded.
If the deepest cells removed by biopsy are normal, no further treatment may be needed. If the deepest cells removed by biopsy are cancerous, this means the cancer has invaded further than the biopsy. In these cases, treatment generally starts with removal of additional tissue. When this tissue is removed it is checked to make sure all the cancerous cells have been removed from the body or are otherwise destroyed.
Self-help for cervical cancer
Without treatment, cervical cancer will continue to grow and spread. Eventually, vital body organs will not be able to function properly because the cancer will take their oxygen and nutrients, crowd them out, or harm them. The result is often death.
There are things you can do to reduce the physical and mental stresses of cervical cancer and its treatment.
Maintaining good nutrition is one of the best things you can do. You may lose your appetite during your treatment.
Common side-effects of chemotherapy, such as nausea, vomiting, and sores inside the mouth, can make eating difficult. However, people who eat well, taking in enough calories and protein, will have an easier time keeping up their strength and energy during the therapy. They are also better able to tolerate the side-effects of therapy. Your cancer specialist (oncologist) or gynaecologist may be able to recommend a dietitian who can offer suggestions for keeping up your calorie and protein intake.
The following lifestyle changes may help keep you stronger and more comfortable during treatment:
- Physical activity will help keep up your strength and energy levels. Engage in physical activity that is comfortable but doesn't wear you out.
- Rest is equally important. Get plenty of sleep each night and rest during the day if you need to.
- Stop smoking.
- Avoid alcohol. You may not be able to drink alcohol with some of the medications you are taking. Be sure to ask your doctor or specialist nurse.
Medical treatment for cervical cancer
Treatment for precancerous lesions differs from that given for invasive cervical cancer.
Choice of treatment for a precancerous lesion of the cervix depends on a number of factors. These factors include whether the lesion is low or high grade, whether you want to have children in the future, your age and general health, and your preference and that of your doctor.
If you have a low-grade lesion, you may not need further treatment, especially if the abnormal area was completely removed during biopsy. You should have regular cervical smear tests.
When a precancerous lesion requires treatment, cryosurgery (freezing), cauterisation (burning, also called diathermy), or laser surgery may be used to destroy the abnormal area without harming nearby healthy tissue.