What is Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Cervix?Squamous cell carcinoma of the cervix is the most common type of cervical cancer. It originates in the squamous cells, which are thin, flat cells that line the bottom part of the cervix leading to the vagina. This type of cancer is typically associated with persistent infection by high-risk types of human papillomavirus (HPV), particularly HPV types 16 and 18.
SymptomsSymptoms of squamous cell carcinoma of the cervix may include:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding, such as bleeding between menstrual periods, after sexual intercourse, or after menopause.
- Unusual vaginal discharge, which may be watery, bloody, or have a foul odor.
- Pelvic pain or pain during sexual intercourse.
- In advanced stages, urinary or bowel problems may occur if the cancer has spread to nearby tissues.
Disease Aetiology (Causes)The primary risk factor for squamous cell carcinoma of the cervix is persistent infection with high-risk HPV. Other risk factors include smoking, early onset of sexual activity, having multiple sexual partners, a weakened immune system, and a history of other sexually transmitted infections.
DiagnosisDiagnosing squamous cell carcinoma of the cervix involves:
- Pap Smear Test: To detect abnormal cells in the cervix.
- HPV Testing: To identify high-risk types of HPV that can cause cervical cancer.
- Colposcopy and Biopsy: If abnormal cells are found, a colposcopy (examination of the cervix using a magnifying device) and biopsy are performed to confirm the diagnosis.
- Imaging Tests: Such as MRI, CT scan, or PET scan, may be used to assess the extent of the cancer.
TreatmentTreatment for squamous cell carcinoma of the cervix depends on various factors, including the stage of the cancer, and may include:
- Surgery: Ranging from a cone biopsy to remove a small portion of the cervix to a radical hysterectomy (removal of the uterus and cervix).
- Radiation Therapy: Often used in combination with chemotherapy, especially for more advanced stages of cancer.
- Chemotherapy: Typically administered along with radiation therapy for locally advanced cancers.
- Targeted Therapy or Immunotherapy: May be options in certain advanced or recurrent cases.