Sunday, March 3, 2024

How I Cured My Cervical Cancer

If The Cancer Comes Back

Cervical cancer is preventable and treatable: it is time to eliminate it

If cancer does return at some point, your treatment options will depend on where the cancer is, what treatments youve had before, and your health. Surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, or some combination of these might be options. Other types of treatment might also be used to help relieve any symptoms from the cancer.

For more on how recurrent cancer is treated, see Treatment Options for Cervical Cancer, by Stage. For more general information on dealing with a recurrence, you may also want to read Coping With Cancer Recurrence.

Anas Cancer Survivor Story

Ana R., Cervical Cancer SurvivorAge at diagnosis: 36

Ana R. overcame cervical cancer. Watch her inspiring story.

I was diagnosed with Stage 2 cervical cancer at age 36. I was a single mother with two children, ages 6 and 8.

I had abnormal Pap smears starting 8 years prior, when I was pregnant with my daughter. I was never told that I had HPV, even though I did. After each abnormal Pap test result, I would have a LEEP and colposcopy. They always came back clear, and my gynecologist/obstetrician would send me on my way.

And then, I had abnormal bleeding. I thought it was from a poorly placed IUD. I went to my gynecologist, who said, You know, you have this history, and you have HPV, and so Im going to do a Pap, but this time Ill sample cells a little higher up in your cervix.

I got abnormal results again and scheduled yet another colposcopy for the day before Thanksgiving. I still really wasnt concerned. I got the results on December 15th, three days before my schools winter break. My doctor called while I was teaching and said, I have your results. You have cancer. I cant treat you, and I have referred you to an oncologist. They will be calling today. You probably will have to have a hysterectomy. I left work, and sat in my car, in shock. I sat there for maybe 45 minutes before the tears came. I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was I could not die, I had two babies who needed me.

How Do Naturopathic Doctors Help Prevent And Treat Cervical Dysplasia And Hpv

Highlights

  • The main risk factor for cervical dysplasia is the presence of HPV.
  • Approximately 40 percent of American women currently have some form of HPV.
  • Without treatment, advanced cervical dysplasia can progress to cervical cancer.
  • Naturopathic doctors who specialize in womens health offer both preventive education and natural treatments for dysplasia and HPV.
  • NDs emphasize safe sex, smoking cessation and optimizing nutrition for prevention of dysplasia.
  • NDs offer natural therapies to treat dysplasia and HPV directly, and to help the bodys immune system fight the virus.
  • NDs treat low- and mid-grade dysplasia with a combination of lifestyle modification, therapeutic diets, nutrient and botanical therapies, and local treatment of the cervix.

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When Should I See My Healthcare Provider

Your healthcare provider will likely monitor your health closely following a cervical dysplasia diagnosis to ensure cells dont grow back or become cancerous. You may have more frequent Pap smears and HPV tests, too.

Following treatment, your healthcare provider may recommend that you have a follow-up Pap smear every three to six months for one to two years. Afterwards, you may resume having yearly Pap smears.

Lily’s Story In Her Own Words

Is cervical cancer curable?

When I say that I was the most normal 27-year-old, I truly mean that I was the most normal 27-year-old. I had met the love of my life, recently moved in with a friend, and started working with my father helping out with the family business full time. I had this beautiful dog, Rocco, who I adored. He went with me everywhere. I loved going to all sorts of different music concerts, walking around the dog park, and just hanging out with friends.

About a year into my relationship with my boyfriend, I noticed that I was having quite a bit of pain in my pelvis. I would wake up almost every day in pain, not so much that I couldn’t get out of bed, just enough to make me realize that the pain was there. I would get up and take an aspirin and usually forget about it by the end of the day. I also started to bleed after sex. I waited almost an entire year before going to the doctor. I was that person that would go to the doctor when it was really bad. I kept putting off my regularly scheduled pap smear because as a young woman in her 20s, I didn’t think I NEEDED to go to that one appointment. I could likely skip one and be just fine. Okay, maybe skip two and still be just fine.

I thought to myself, oh, probably just a bad infection. Okay, what do we need to do for this? It wasn’t until she made a call to see a specialist and asked if I could be seen immediately that day. I kept thinking: Why hadn’t I just gone in sooner? Why hadn’t I taken care of myself properly? What have I done?

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Second Cancers After Treatment

Cancer survivors can be affected by a number of health problems, but often a major concern is facing cancer again. Cancer that comes back after treatment is called a recurrence. But some cancer survivors may develop a new, unrelated cancer later. This is called a second cancer.

Unfortunately, being treated for cervical cancer doesnt mean you cant get another cancer. Women who have had cervical cancer can still get the same types of cancers that other women get. In fact, they might be at higher risk for certain types of cancer, including:

Many of these cancers are linked to smoking and/or infection with the human papilloma virus , which are also strongly linked to cervical cancer.

The increased risks of acute myeloid leukemia and cancers of the rectum, bladder, and bone seem to be linked to treatment with radiation.

Natural Remedies For Hpv & Cervical Health

Last updated on by Alisa Vitti

When was the last time you had a check-up?

Annual pap smears are important to check for HPV and to monitor the health of your cervix. With about 70% of the population carrying HPV , the chances are good that many of us will have to deal with an abnormal pap smear at some point.

Getting an abnormal pap smear can feel very scary. Words like pre-cancer create a lot of anxiety and the proposed treatment a LEEP procedure can be uncomfortable and painful. We all know someone or have ourselves been through the worrisome wait for test results. And a diagnosis of HPV, with its widely publicized vaccine and the conversation around HPV leading to cervical cancer, can be upsetting, leaving your thoughts spiralling toward all the worst-case scenarios. An abnormal pap smear may be quite a common experience, but it doesnt make it any easier to endure.

As with everything to do with womens health, I believe the key to avoid anxiety and panic is arming yourself with knowledge.

The vast majority of abnormal pap smears show low grade cervical dysplasia or cervical abnormalities that do not lead directly to pre-cancer cells or a cancer diagnosis. Getting yourself checked-up and tested is important, but for most women an abnormal result should not be cause for alarm. The majority of cervix health issues are very treatable and you can feel confidant that the next time you have a check-up everything will be fine.

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What Is The Outlook For Cervical Cancer

The survival rate is close to 100% when you find and treat precancerous or early cancerous changes. The prognosis for invasive cervical cancer depends on the stage.

  • More than 90% of women with stage 0 survive at least 5 years after diagnosis.
  • Stage I cervical cancer patients have a 5-year survival rate of 80% to 93%.
  • Women with stage II cervical cancer have a 5-year survival rate of 58% to 63%.
  • The survival rate for women with stage III cervical cancer is 32% to 35%.
  • Sixteen percent or fewer women with stage IV cervical cancer survive 5 years.

Health care providers who treat cancer often use the term “remission” rather than “cure.” Many women who have cervical cancer recover completely, but it can still come back.

Certain Types Of Hpv Are Linked With Cervical Disease

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While more than 100 types of HPV exist, only about a dozen of them are associated with cervical disease. Together, HPV 16 and HPV 18 account for 70 percent of all cervical disease, says Trimble. Genital warts are a form of low-risk HPV, and they do not cause cancer.

Doctors monitor HPV with Pap tests that look for abnormal cervical cells called lesions. Low-grade lesions where the changes are only mildly abnormal often clear up on their own. These are not considered precancerous.

All cervical cancers arise from untreated, high-grade lesions, which do contain precancerous cells. If your immune system is healthy, it typically takes about 10 to 15 years for cervical cancer to develop from a high-grade lesion. But not all high-grade lesions become cancer a persons own immune system can eliminate them.

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Pelvic Lymph Node Dissection

Cancer that starts in the cervix can spread to lymph nodes in the pelvis. To check for lymph node spread, the surgeon might remove some of these lymph nodes. This procedure is known as a pelviclymph node dissection or lymph node sampling. It is done at the same time as a hysterectomy or trachelectomy.

Removing lymph nodes can lead to fluid drainage problems in the legs. This can cause severe leg swelling, a condition called Lymphedema.

What Are The Symptoms

In its early stages, cervical cancer rarely causes symptoms, but as it progresses, women may notice one or more of these changes:

  • Vaginal bleeding that occurs between regular menstrual periods, after sexual intercourse, douching or a pelvic exam
  • Menstrual periods that last longer and are heavier than in the past
  • Pain during sex.

Long before any symptoms occur, a Pap test may reveal abnormal cell growth in the cervix , which causes no symptoms but is considered a precancerous condition.

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Are There Support Groups And Counseling For Cervical Cancer

Living with cervical cancer can present new challenges for you and your loved ones.

You might worry about how it will affect your everyday life. Many people feel anxious or depressed, and some are angry and resentful. Talking about your feelings and concerns can help.

Your friends and family members can be supportive. If you want to talk, let them know. They may be waiting for a cue from you.

Some people don’t want to “burden” their loved ones, or they prefer talking about their concerns with a more neutral professional. A social worker, counselor, or member of the clergy can help.

Many people get a boost from talking with others with similar experiences. Your hospital or medical center might have support groups. The American Cancer Society also has information about support groups all over the U.S.

Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy

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Sentinel lymph node biopsy removes the sentinel lymph node during surgery. The sentinel lymph node is the first lymph node in a group of lymph nodes to receive lymphatic drainage from the primary tumor. It is therefore the first lymph node the cancer is likely to spread to from the primary tumor. To identify the sentinel lymph node, a radioactive substance and/or blue dye is injected near the tumor. The substance or dye flows through the lymph ducts to the lymph nodes. The first lymph node to receive the substance or dye is removed. A pathologist views the tissue under a microscope to look for cancer cells. If cancer cells are found, more lymph nodes will be removed through a separate incision . This is called a lymph node dissection. After the sentinel lymph node biopsy, the surgeon removes the cancer.

Learn more about Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy.

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Cervical Cancer Screening Guidelines

recommends that you:

  • begin cervical cancer screening when youre 25 years old
  • have an HPV test once every 5 years if youre 25 to 65 years old
  • or have a Pap smear every 3 years if youre 25 to 65 years old
  • or have a combination HPV and Pap test every 5 years if youre 25 to 65 years old
  • talk with a healthcare professional about how often you should be screened if you have an immune condition that may make you more vulnerable to cancer

You can stop having cervical cancer screenings if you:

  • are more than 65 years old and
  • youve had regular screenings for 10 years with no concerns
  • you havent had cervical dysplasia or cervical cancer in the past 25 years
  • youve had a total hysterectomy, unless youve had your uterus removed as part of cancer treatment

Cervical Cancer Can Be Prevented With A Vaccine

Usually, the idea of a vaccine for cancer would sound farfetched cancer is the result of the uncontrolled growth of cells, so how could we possibly vaccinate against our own cells? Thanks to years of research, we now know that there are strong links between HPV infection and cervical cancer. That means we have a target for vaccines!

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Can You Have Dysplasia Without Hpv

No. You have to have HPV to develop cervical dysplasia. But having HPV doesnt necessarily mean that youll develop cervical dysplasia.

Its unknown why some people develop cervical dysplasia after being infected with HPV while others dont. Some high-risk strains of HPV and the duration of the infection may play a role. Risk factors include:

  • Being over age 55. Studies have shown that HPV infections often last longer in people over 55. Infections often clear up more quickly in people who are 25 or younger.
  • Smoking cigarettes. Smoking and using products that contain tobacco can double your risk of cervical dysplasia.
  • Having a weakened immune system. Using immunosuppressant drugs can make it harder for your body to fight an HPV infection. Becoming infected with the human immunodeficiency virus makes it harder for your body to fight infection, too. A weakened immune system, along with an HPV infection, can lead to cervical dysplasia.

What Are The Classifications Of Cervical Dysplasia

Cervical Cancer, HPV, and Pap Test, Animation

Cervical dysplasia was once classified as mild, moderate or severe, based on how likely abnormal cells would become cancerous. A more recent system classifies disease severity based on how much epithelial tissue in your cervix has abnormal cells. Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia is classified on a scale from one to three.

  • CIN 1: Refers to abnormal cells affecting about one-third of the thickness of the epithelium.
  • CIN 2: Refers to abnormal cells affecting about one-third to two-thirds of the epithelium.
  • CIN 3: Refers to abnormal cells affecting more than two-thirds of the epithelium.

CIN 1 cervical dysplasia rarely becomes cancer and often goes away on its own. CIN 2 and 3 are more likely to require treatment to prevent cancer.

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How Is Cervical Dysplasia Treated

Treatment depends on various factors, including the severity of your cervical dysplasia, age, health and treatment preferences. Procedures to treat cervical dysplasia can impact future pregnancies. Speak with your healthcare provider about treatments available to you if youre pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant in the future.

Monitoring abnormal cells

With low-grade cervical dysplasia, classified as CIN 1, you likely wont need treatment. In the majority of these cases, the condition goes away on its own. Only about 1% of cases progress to cervical cancer. Your healthcare provider may choose a conservative approach that calls for periodic Pap smears to monitor any changes in abnormal cells.

Removing or destroying abnormal cells

If your cervical dysplasia is more severe , your healthcare provider can remove the abnormal cells that may become cancerous or destroy them.

These procedures may include:

If Treatment Does Not Work

Recovery from cancer is not always possible. If the cancer cannot be cured or controlled, the disease may be called incurable, distant metastatic, or terminal.

This diagnosis is stressful, and for some people, advanced cancer is difficult to discuss. However, it is important to have open and honest conversations with your health care team to express your feelings, preferences, and concerns. The health care team has special skills, experience, and knowledge to support patients and their families and is there to help. Making sure a person is physically comfortable, free from pain, and emotionally supported is extremely important.

People who have advanced cancer and who are expected to live less than 6 months may want to consider hospice care. Hospice care is designed to provide the best possible quality of life for people who are near the end of life. You and your family are encouraged to talk with the health care team about hospice care options, which include hospice care at home, a special hospice center, or other health care locations. Nursing care and special equipment can make staying at home a workable option for many families. Learn more about advanced cancer care planning.

After the death of a loved one, many people need support to help them cope with the loss. Learn more about grief and loss.

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Large Loop Excision Of The Transformation Zone Or Cone Biopsy

If any of the tests show precancerous cell changes you may have a large loop excision procedure or a cone biopsy.

LLETZ is the most common method to remove cervical tissue for examination and treating precancerous changes of the cervix. It is usually done under a local anaesthetic.

A cone biopsy is used where there are abnormal glandular cells in the cervix or if early-stage cancer is suspected.

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