Side Effects Of Immunotherapy
Immunotherapy can cause many different side effects depending on which drug is used. These drugs may make you feel tired, sick to your stomach, or cause a rash. Most of these problems go away after treatment ends.
There are ways to treat most of the side effects caused by immunotherapy. If you have side effects, tell your cancer care team so they can help.
What Kind Of Treatment Will I Need
There are many ways to treat cervical cancer. The treatment plan that is best for you will depend on:
- The stage of the cancer
- The chance that a type if treatment will cure the cancer or help in some way.
- Other health problems you have
- Your feelings about the treatment and the side effects that come with it.
Medical History And Physical Exam
First, the doctor will ask you about your personal and family medical history. This includes information related to risk factors and symptoms of cervical cancer. A complete physical exam will help evaluate your general state of health. You will have a pelvic exam and maybe a Pap test if one has not already been done. In addition, your lymph nodes will be felt to see if the cancer has spread .
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What Are The Different Types Of Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer is categorized based on the type of cell where it develops. The most common types of cervical cancer are:
Squamous cell carcinoma : This type of cervical cancer is most common and is found in 80% – 90% of patients. It develops in the lining of the cervix.
Adenocarcinoma: This type of cervical cancer develops in the gland cells that produce cervical mucus. Approximately 10% – 20% of cervical cancers are defined by this type.
Mixed carcinoma: On occasion, both squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma are found in cervical cancer.
In some rare cases, other types of cancer can be found in the cervix such as melanoma, sarcoma and lymphoma.
Is Cervical Cancer Treatable
Cervical cancer is a serious and life-threatening condition, yet it is highly treatable when caught at an early stage. There are many different treatment options available. Treating cervical cancer depends on many factors, including the stage of the disease. Early cervical cancer and advanced cervical cancer will be treated differently. Your doctor will work with an oncologist to discuss a treatment plan thats best for you.
This may involve surgery, like a hysterectomy , chemotherapy or radiation therapy or anticancer drugs. During this conversation, your doctor also will discuss any potential side effects, such as menopause if youre pre-menopausal. Regular follow-up appointments are recommended after treatment to ensure that your body is continuing to respond well and that there are no recurrences. Depending on their specialty, your doctor may have a team approach committed to treating cervical cancer holistically.
You must take time to research all available options of cervical cancer treatment before making any decisions about your care. Make sure all your questions are answered by a qualified healthcare professional before beginning any treatments.
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How Is Cervical Cancer Treated
The cervical cancer treatment team includes a gynecologic oncologist . Recommended treatment for cervical cancer is based on many factors including the stage of the disease, your age and general health, and if you want children in the future.
The treatments for cervical cancer are radiation, chemotherapy, surgery, targeted therapy and immunotherapy.
Radiation therapy uses energy beams to kill cancer cells on your cervix. There are two types of radiation therapy:
- External beam radiation : Aims high-powered radiation at cancer from a machine outside your body.
- Brachytherapy: Puts the radiation in or just near cancer.
Chemotherapy uses drugs that are injected through your veins or taken by mouth to kill cancer cells. It enters your blood and is effective for killing cells anywhere in your body. There are several drugs used for chemo and they can be combined. Chemo is often given in cycles. The length of the cycle and the schedule or frequency of chemotherapy varies depending on the drug used and where cancer is located.
Different kinds of surgery are used to treat cervical cancer. Some of the most common kinds of surgery for cervical cancer include:
In its earliest stages, the disease is curable by removing the cancerous tissue. In other cases, your provider may perform a simple hysterectomy or a radical hysterectomy.
Cystoscopy Proctoscopy And Examination Under Anesthesia
These are most often done in women who have large tumors. They are not necessary if the cancer is caught early.
In a cystoscopy, a slender tube with a lens and a light is placed into the bladder through the urethra. This lets the doctor check your bladder and urethra to see if cancer is growing into these areas. Biopsy samples can be removed during cystoscopy for testing in the lab. Cystoscopy can be done under a local anesthetic, but some patients may need general anesthesia. Your doctor will let you know what to expect before and after the procedure.
Proctoscopy is a visual inspection of the rectum through a lighted tube to look for spread of cervical cancer into your rectum.
Your doctor may also do a pelvic exam while you are under anesthesia to find out if the cancer has spread beyond the cervix.
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Biopsy Findings: Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia
Biopsy samples are checked by a pathologist for CIN. CIN is the term used to describe abnormal cervical cells that were found on the surface of the cervix after a biopsy.
CIN is graded on a scale of 1 to 3, based on how abnormal the cells look under a microscope and how much of the cervical tissue is affected. LSIL changes seen on a Pap test are generally CIN 1. HSIL changes seen on a Pap test can be CIN 2, CIN2/3, or CIN 3.
- CIN 1 changes are mild, or low grade. They usually go away on their own and do not require treatment.
- CIN 2 changes are moderate and are typically treated by removing the abnormal cells. However, CIN 2 can sometimes go away on its own. Some people, after consulting with their health care provider, may decide to have a colposcopy with biopsy every 6 months. CIN 2 must be treated if it progresses to CIN 3 or does not go away in 1 to 2 years.
- CIN 3 changes are severely abnormal. Although CIN 3 is not cancer, it may become cancer and spread to nearby normal tissue if not treated. Doctors do not yet have a way to tell which cases of CIN 3 will become cancer and which will not. CIN 3 should be treated right away, unless you are pregnant. See Pregnancy and Treatment for High-Grade Cervical Cell Changes for more information.
Pelvic Back Or Leg Pain
Pelvic pain could be an indicator of changes to the cervix, but advanced cervical cancer can even spread to the bladder, intestines, or even the lungs and liver, says Chapman-Davis. Then you might have things like back pain or leg pain, she says. But thats typically associated with very advanced cases because the cervix isnt really affecting a lot of nerves. Talk to your primary care doc to rule out cervical cancer as well as other potential nerve causes.
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Risk Factors For Cervical Cancer
Factors that can put a person at risk for developing cervical cancer include:
- Being infected with certain strains of HPV
- Smoking cigarettes
- Using hormonal contraceptives for long periods.
- Poor nutrition and lifestyle
- A family history of cervical cancer
- A weakened immune system due to illness or medication,
Its important to make sure you have regular preventative checkups with your doctor to help reduce your risk of cervical cancer. Your doctor may offer additional screening tests if they believe its necessary due to any potential risk factors you have. Being aware of your health risks and taking steps to lower them can help keep you healthy and safe in the long run.
Surgery For Cervical Cancer
Most women with cervical cancer have some type of surgery.
This treatment kills the cancer cells by freezing them. It may be used to treat pre-cancers- abnormal cells that can turn into cancer if not treated .
This treatment uses a laser to burn off cancer cells. It may be used to treat pre-cancers.
Conization is also called a cone biopsy. To do this a small cone-shaped piece of the part of the cervix that has the cancer or pre-cancer is taken out.
A hysterectomy takes out the uterus and cervix. Its the most common way to treat cervical cancer. There are many ways to do this surgery.
Sometimes the ovaries are taken out at the same time. Nearby lymph nodes may also be taken out to see if they have cancer cells.
Ask your doctor what type of surgery you will need. Each type has risks and benefits.
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Who’s At Risk For Cervical Cancer
In many cases, cervical cancer can be linked with known risk factors for the disease. Some risk factors can be avoided, while others cannot. Some risk factors within your control are:
- Screening history: Those who haven’t had Pap tests are regular intervals are at increased risk of cervical cancer.
- HPV infection: Certain types of HPV are linked to cervical cancer. Lowering your risk for HPV can also lower your risk for cervical cancer.
- Sexual history: Having sexual intercourse before the age of 18 and having many sexual partners puts you at higher risk of HPV infection and chlamydia. Preventing these diseases reduces your risk of cervical cancer.
- Smoking: Cigarette smoking is associated with an increased risk of cervical cancer.
- HIV infection: Those who’ve been infected with HIV have a higher-than-average risk of developing cervical cancer.
- Birth control pills: There is evidence that long-term use of oral contraceptives can increase your risk of cervical cancer.
- Multiple children: Having three or more full-term pregnancies may increase your risk for developing cancer of the cervix.
- Having a weakened immune system: Having a weak immune system makes your body unable to fight infections.
Some risk factors you can’t change are:
- DES : DES is a hormonal drug that was given to people between 1938 and 1971 to prevent miscarriage. If your mother took DES, you may be more likely to get cervical cancer.
- Family history: Cervical cancer may have a genetic component.
Lower Back Pelvic Or Appendix Pain
Lower back or pelvic pain can be linked to issues with the reproductive organs, such as the cervix. Pelvic pain, especially pain that is continuous, is a tell-tale warning sign of cervical cancer. Pain near the appendix does not usually occur unless the cancer is in an advanced stage. Pelvic pain will generally follow other cervical cancer red flags.
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What Happens At The Gp Appointment
The GP may ask to examine you.
You can ask for a female doctor when you book your appointment.
You’ll be asked to undress from the waist down, behind a screen. You’ll be given a sheet to put over you.
Then the GP may:
- take a small sample of cells from your cervix using a soft brush
It should not be painful, but you may find it uncomfortable. Talk to the GP if you’re feeling uncomfortable.
You can have a friend, family member or other member of staff in the room with you during your exam if you want.
After A Diagnosis Of Cervical Cancer
After finding out you have cervical cancer, you may feel shocked, anxious, upset or confused. These are all normal responses. Everyone reacts differently and there is no right way to feel. You may find it helpful to talk to family and friends about your feeling. Talk about your treatment options with your doctor and seek as much information as you need.
Find out more information:
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How Does Hpv Cause Cancer
HPV infection causes cells to undergo changes. If not treated these cells can, over time, become cancer cells.
Once high-risk HPV infects cells, it interferes with the ways in which these cells communicate with one another, causing infected cells to multiply in an uncontrolled manner. These infected cells are usually recognized and controlled by the immune system. However, sometimes the infected cells remain and continue to grow, eventually forming an area of precancerous cells that, if not treated, can become cancer. Research has found that it can take 10 to 20 years, or even longer, for HPV-infected cervical cells to develop into a cancerous tumor.
Among women whose cervical cells are infected with high-risk HPV, several factors increase the chance that the infection will be long lasting and lead to precancerous cervical cells. These include:
- Having a very aggressive HPV type, particularly HPV 16 or HPV 18. If you have either of these HPV types, make sure you receive diagnostic testing with a colposcopy.
- Smoking cigarettes. Quitting smoking can help your body to fight HPV.
- Having a weakened immune system. If you have HIV or are taking medicines that suppress your immune system, talk to your health care provider about diagnostic testing and follow-up.
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Other Questions You Might Have
Can I still become pregnant?Cervical cancer itself may not affect your ability to conceive. However, some surgeries or treatments used to treat cervical cancer might affect your ability to have children. If fertility is important to you, you should discuss options for preserving fertility with your doctor before starting treatment.
Does a cervical biopsy hurt?Cervical biopsies can be uncomfortable but are usually over quickly. You may wish to speak to your doctor about options for pain relief if you are concerned.
Are cervical biopsies accurate?No medical test is 100 per cent accurate. Cervical biopsies are taken and checked by specialist doctors and are usually very accurate. If you are concerned, you may wish to seek a second opinion from another specialist.
Is cervical cancer hereditary?HPV causes most cases of cervical cancer, and it’s not hereditary. However, you may be at a higher risk for cervical cancer if you have a first-degree relative with a history of cervical cancer.
Foul Smelling Vaginal Discharge
This warning sign is also very common with the onset of cervical cancer. If cervical cancer lacks oxygen, some cells may die off, infecting the tumor. The infection is what creates a foul-smelling vaginal discharge. If the discharge is continuous and appears to be pale, watery, brown, or mixed with blood, you should contact your doctor.
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What Cancers Are Caused By Hpv Infection
HPV infects the squamous cells that line the inner surfaces of these organs. For this reason, most HPV-related cancers are a type of cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. Some cervical cancers come from HPV infection of gland cells in the cervix and are called adenocarcinomas.
HPV-related cancers include:
In the United States, high-risk HPVs cause 3% of all cancers in women and 2% of all cancers in men. Each year, there are about 45,000 new cases of cancer in parts of the body where HPV is often found, and HPV is estimated to cause about 36,000 of these, according to the Centers for Disease Control .
Worldwide, the burden of HPV-related cancers is much greater. High-risk HPVs cause about 5% of all cancers worldwide, with an estimated 570,000 women and 60,000 men getting an HPV-related cancer each year. Cervical cancer is among the most common cancers and a leading cause of cancer-related deaths in low- and middle-income countries, where screening tests and treatment of early cervical cell changes are not readily available.
How To Prevent Cervical Cancer
When symptoms are caught early, cervical cancer is preventable, as doctors can treat them before they become a problem, says Jessica Shepherd, M.D., F.A.C.O.G., a board-certified ob-gyn in Dallas. “If all of us proactively got regularly screened and treated appropriately, we could get rid of cervical cancer in the U.S.,” she adds. Yet despite this fact, one-third of U.S. women diagnosed with cervical cancer die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.
One reason for this concerning statistic is that many women are hesitant to discuss specific sexual health issues their health care provider, says Dr. Shepherd. What’s more, it’s crucial to get the HPV vaccine , which drastically reduces your exposure to cervical cancer. Pap tests should start at the age of 21 and be done every three years, as recommended by the CDC. . For women ages 30-65, a combination of the HPV test and a Pap test can detect nearly all cervical cancers. “We need to think about this vaccine as a preventative measure that support a woman’s overall health,” says Dr. Shepherd. “Prevention is so important because it gives us the potential to eradicate the disease.”
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