All you need to know about different stages of Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer awareness month is observed in January every year globally. There are various types of gynecological cancer, including the vagina, ovaries, cervix, vulva, and uterus. Of all these, cervical cancer is the most common type of gynecological cancer among Indian women. According to the report from 2021 released by the Indian Council Of Medical Research (ICMR), cervical cancer accounted for 15.2% of all cancers occurring in women. Here’s an insight into cervical cancer and its stages.
What Is Cervical Cancer?
Cervical cancer develops in the cervix cells, which connect the uterus to the vagina. This cancer may damage the deeper cervix tissues and metastasize to other organs, including the liver, lungs, bladder, vagina, and rectum. Human papillomavirus infection (HPV) that is acquired through sexual contact plays a major risk factor in causing cervical cancer.
Stages Of Cervical Cancer
According to the facts and figures produced by WHO and Globocan, it has been reported that cervical cancer is ranked number 2 among the leading cancers in Indian women of all ages. India contributes 25% of the total burden of cervical cancer cases globally. The HPV center of India has presented the latest report stating that cervical cancer has become the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in Indian women, especially in women in the age group between 15- 45 years.
Why Are Cervical Cancer Cases Soaring Up In India?
India is witnessing a steady rise in cervical cancer deaths due to a lack of awareness and hesitancy to get screened. It has been estimated that only 2% of the female population has undergone cervical cancer screening.
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- On and off Vaginal bleeding
- Heavy menses
- Spotting after menopause
- Weight loss
- Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
By the time the symptoms show up, the cancer would have got localized, and that’s the reason for the least survival rate of cervical cancer.
Why Is Staging Performed In Cancer?
The staging of cervical cancer is done to characterize the development of cancer based on the location and grade of the tumor and determine the spread of the cancerous cells to the neighboring body organs. The oncologist will craft the treatment plan accordingly by recognizing the cancer stage since cancer treatment is highly personalized for individual patients. Besides this, determining the cancer stage helps predict the survival rate and the chances of recovery. However, the cancer staging is not similar for all types of cancer, and the stages are categorized distinctly for every cancer.
According to the international federation of gynecology and obstetrics, there are four stages of cervical cancer
Stage 0 - Cancer had developed only in the innermost lining of the cervix.
Stage 1- Cancer has been developed and is limited only to the cervix.
Stage 2- Cancer has spread to the local regions and has reached the upper two-thirds of the vagina.
Stage 3 - Cancer cells have got extended to the pelvic floor and started invading the ureters.
Stage 4 - Cancer has been developed and reached beyond the pelvis and affected the rectum or bladder
However, for a detailed understanding, FIGO has classified the significant categories of cervical cancer into subcategories based on the tumor grade:
Stage IA: Preclinical invasive that can be diagnosed only through a microscope.
Stage IB: The cancer lesion will be only tangible and confined to the cervix.
Stage IB1: The tumor size is not greater than 4.0 cm in diameter.
Stage IB2: The size of the tumor is beyond 4.0 cm in diameter.
Stage IIA: The cancer is spread to the upper two-thirds of the vagina.
Stage IIB: The tumor reaches and invades the parametrium region but has not extended to the pelvic sidewall.
Stage IIIA: The tumor has outgrown the lower one-third of the vagina and is not extended to the pelvic wall still.
Stage IIIB: The tumor has developed massively and reached the pelvic side wall, and invaded the ureters.
Stage IVA: The cancer cells begin to invade the mucosa of the urinary bladder.
Stage IVB: It is the stage of metastatic cervical cancer, where the cancer cells have spread to distant organs.
How Do Oncologists Confirm The Stages Of Cervical Cancer?
Well, there are few primary diagnostic tests to detect cervical cancer.
- HPV/PAP test
- Physical examination
- Imaging tests
The stages of cervical cancer and its spread can be confirmed by performing imaging studies such as
- CT Scan
- MRI to determine if the tumor is benign or malignant
- PET scan
The Final Note
This cervical cancer awareness month promotes and raises awareness about cervical cancer and its stages. It is important that women are aware of the signs and symptoms of any gynecological cancer and look out for any unusual changes to their bodies. Ensure to educate people about the significance of early detection and motivate them to get tested as soon as possible when they notice the symptoms.