The cervix is that part of the female reproductive system that connects the uterus with the vagina. Cancer that develops in the cervical cells is called cervical cancer, and various strains of a sexually transmitted disease, namely Human Papillomavirus (HPV), are responsible for most cases of cervical cancer. Although the immune system can generally fight HPV strains, the virus survives in some cases and makes the cervical cells cancerous. Any woman can get this type of cancer, but it is mostly seen among women above the age of 30 years.
Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy are some of the common treatment options for cervical cancer. A gynecologic oncologist suggests a treatment method depending on the age, medical history, the stage of cancer, and the preferences of the patient. The following are some of the treatment options for cervical cancer:
- Surgery: Women with cervical cancer are likely to undergo some form of surgery to diagnose the condition, determine the spread of cancer, and for early-stage treatment. Cryosurgery and laser ablation are the two types of surgeries used to treat pre-cervical cancers. An excisional surgery known as conization is one of the common treatment options for cervical cancer. Simple hysterectomy, radical hysterectomy, and trachelectomy are invasive surgical procedures that are undertaken for the treatment of cervical cancers. Pelvic exenteration, on the other hand, is conducted in the case of recurrent cervical cancer.
- Radiation therapy: In this treatment, radiation or high-energy X-ray is used to kill the cancerous cells. Depending on the stage of cancer, this therapy can be used for the main treatment or to check the spread post-treatment. External beam radiation and brachytherapy or internal radiation therapy are the two main types of radiation treatments advised for cervical cancer.
- Chemotherapy: One of the widely used treatment options for cervical cancer, chemotherapy uses anticancer medications that are administered either intravenously or orally. Not every cervical cancer patient will have to undergo chemotherapy, but chemotherapy is either a part of the main treatment or is used to check the recurrence of the cancerous cells. In several cases, radiation and chemotherapy are combined to make radiation therapy more effective. This treatment is called concurrent chemoradiation.
- Targeted therapy: Another treatment option for cervical cancer is targeted therapy. In this treatment method, medications are specially targeted to prevent the formation or buildup of tumors in the blood vessels.
- Immunotherapy: In this type of therapy, medicines are used to prepare the immune system to effectively recognize and destroy the cancerous cells. By using immune checkpoint inhibitors like Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) that block the protein found in the immune cells, namely PD-1, the growth of the tumors is arrested. Some tumors might even shrink.
The above-listed therapies are the main treatment options for cervical cancer. One should talk to a gynecologic oncologist to figure out the most effective treatment for cervical cancer according to the stage and type of cancer.