Curing cervical cancer before it starts
Cervical cancer doesn’t develop suddenly. Instead, cells in the cervix gradually develop changes before they become malignant. These pre-cancerous changes typically take years to transform into actual cancer, although sometimes cervical cancer develops in less than a year after the worrisome cell changes first occur. Fortunately, regular Pap tests can spot these precancerous cell changes.
If precancerous cells are detected on a Pap test, it doesn’t mean you will develop cervical cancer — the abnormal cells can go away without treatment. However, there’s no way to be certain a pre-cancer will turn into an invasive cancer or not. That’s why it’s important to treat all precancerous cells. In a very real sense, it’s a way cervical cancer is curable before it even develops.
Is cervical cancer curable at all stages?
Whether cervical is curable or not depends on many factors, including how early it’s found, the size of the tumor, how deeply the cancer has invaded tissues in or around the cervix, and whether it has spread to other parts of the body (metastasis), the National Cancer Institute points out. The patient’s individual health status is important, too.
The staging of cervical cancer documents how far the malignancy has spread when it is first diagnosed and is used to determine the best treatments for the disease. The more advanced a cancer is at diagnosis, the more unlikely it is to be curable.
For example, Stage 0 cervical cancer, (also called carcinoma in situ) is the earliest form of the disease, when cancer cells are found only on the surface of the cervix. According to the American Cancer Society, all cases of cervical cancer at this stage can be cured with the right treatment — although it’s important to have regular follow-ups to make sure any cancerous changes in cells that recur are treated promptly.
January 08, 2018
Janet O’Dell, RN