What is Cancer of the Cervix?
The cervix is the lower part of the uterus (womb). The uterus has 2 parts. The upper part, called the body of the uterus, is where a baby grows. The cervix, in the lower part, connects the body of the uterus to the vagina, or birth canal. Cancer of the cervix (also call cervical cancer) begins in the cells lining the cervix. these cells do no suddenly change into cancer. Instead, the normal cells of the cervix first slowly change into pre-cancer cells that can then turn into cancer. These changes may be called dysplasia. (American Cancer Society)
Because many women are screened routinely, the most common finding is an abnormal Papanicolaou (Pap) test result. Typically, these patients are asymptomatic.
Clinically, the first symptom of cervical cancer is abnormal vaginal bleeding, usually postcoital. Vaginal discomfort, malodorous discharge, and dysuria are not uncommon.
The tumor grows by extending along the epithelial surfaces, both squamous and glandular, upward to the endometrial cavity, throughout the vaginal epithelium and laterly to the pelvic wall. It can invade the bladder and rectum directly, leading to constipation, hematuria, fistula, and ureteral obstruction, with or hydorureter or hydronephrosis. The triad of leg edema, pain, and hydronephoresis suggest pelvic wall involvement. The common sites for distant metastasis include extra pelvic lymph nodes, liver, lung and bone. (Medscape . author: Cecelia H Boardman, MD; chief Editor: Warner K Huh, Md and more)
From 2005-2009, the median age at diagnosis for cancer of the cervix uteri was 48 years of age. Approximately 0.2% were diagnosed under the age 20; 14.0% between 20 and 34; 25.95 between 35 and 44; 23.9% between 45 years and 54; 16.7 between 55 and 64; 10.7 between 65 and 74; 6.1% between 75 and 84; and 2.6% 85+ years of age. (SEER incidence and Mortality)