Stages of Cervical Cancer
If a biopsy shows cancer, the woman will likely have a thorough pelvic examination. Additional tissue may be taken to help determine the stage of disease. The stage of cancer is determined by its size, depth of invasion, and how far it has spread. The options for treatment depend on the stage of disease. The stages of cervical cancer are as follows:
Stage 0: The cancer is found only in the top layer of cells in the tissue that lines the cervix. Stage 0 is also called carcinoma in situ.
Stage I: The cancer has invaded the cervix beneath the top layer of cells, but is found only in the cervix.
Stage II: The cancer has spread beyond the cervix into nearby tissues, and extends to the upper part of the vagina. The cancer does not invade the lower third of the vagina or the pelvic wall (the lining of the part of the body between the hips)
Stage III: The cancer extends to the lower part of the vagina, and may have spread to the pelvic wall and nearby lymph nodes.
Stage IV: The cancer has spread to the bladder, rectum, or other parts of the body.
Defining the stages (extent) of disease and deciding on a course of treatment, may involve the doctor ordering the following additional tests:
CAT (CT) scan – an x-ray machine linked to a computer which takes detailed pictures
MRI – a powerful magnet linked to a computer which takes detailed pictures
Ultrasound – a device held against the abdominal wall which sends out sound waves that people cannot hear. However, the waves bounce off the cervix, and a computer uses the echoes to create a picture.
HPV (Human Papillomavirus) is the main risk factor for Cervical Cancer
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the name of a group of viruses that includes more than 100 different types or strains. More than 30 of these viruses are sexually transmitted and they can infect the genital area of men and women. Genital HPV Infection is a STD caused by human papillomavirus.
Persistent infection with “high Risk” types of HPV is the main risk factor for cervical cancer. Approximately 10 of the identified genital HPV types can lead to the development of cervical cancer. Spread by skin to skin contact, HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S. However, more than 90% of cases (9 out of 10) clear up on their own. That is one reason it’s always important for sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s) to be diagnosed and treated as early and completely as possible.
Human Papillomavirus Vaccine
HPV vaccine is designed to immunize (protect) against certain STD’s such as cervical cancer and genital warts, both of which are caused by human papillomaviruses The current vaccine targets four types of HPV, two of which cause abut 70% of cervical cancers (7 out of 10). The other two types of HPV cause most cases of genital warts. In the U.S., some public health groups and policymakers favor vaccinating pre-teens and early teenagers, and some expect an HPV vaccine to become one of at least three routine immunizations for adolescents.
The HPV Vaccine Controversy: What It’s About
Several U.S. states are considering mandatory HPV vaccination for pre-teen and early teen females in order to prevent cervical cancer, which can be a very serious disease. However, many parents and policymakers consider mandatory HPV vaccination a violation of parental rights.
Many Public health groups favor vaccinating 11 and 12 year old females in order to prevent their developing cervical cancer. However, the scientific community just doesn’t know yet whether the HPV vaccine will still be effective by the time they become sexually active.
Advocates for mandatory HPV vaccine emphasize that provisions are included in proposed legislation to allow parents to opt out if they do not wish their chills/children to receive the vaccine.
Although males can’t get cervical cancer, should they be vaccinated since they do spread HPV to females?
Some groups feel that vaccinating teenagers against a STD may send a message to them that causes them to become promiscuous.
It is important that parents with children and teenagers do the following:
Follow this controversy closely
Remain informed about the HPV vaccine as it becomes available
Consult their doctor and/or others they trust in deciding on the best solution for them and their family.