Treatment of cervical cancer is branched into several different streams, each having its own importance. A complete cure of cervical cancer is possible only when the disease has been detected at an early stage. The treatment to be followed depends largely on the stage of the disease. In short size, depth of invasion and how far it has spread determines the true strategy of combating the disease. For earliest stages of the cancer a combination of surgery and radiation may be used. For stages that are advanced, radiation combined with chemotherapy is the main treatment that is administered.We are elaborating on the main treatment options:
Various types of surgical interventions are available to combat the progress of cancer. Each of these interventions aim at either detaching the cancerous tissue from the body or killing the cells using one of the several methods available. We are listing the major surgeries as under:
- Cryosurgery: This type of surgery involves the use of liquid nitrogen to kill the cancerous cells of the cervix. In this procedure a metal probe cooled with liquid nitrogen is placed directly on the cervix. The method is used to treat carcinoma in situ but not invasive cancer of the cervix.
- Laser Surgery: a highly coherent beam of laser is used to burn off cells of the cervix that are cancerous. This type of surgery is used to treat carcinoma in situ but not invasive cancer.
- Hysterectomy: This is the surgery that is done to remove the body of the uterus and cervix, while leaving structures next to the uterus intact. The vagina and the lymph nodes are left intact too. When uterus is extracted from an incision in the abdomen, it is called abdominal hysterectomy. When the uterus is removed through the vaginal canal, it is called Vaginal Hysterectomy. When a laparoscope is used to take out the uterus, it is called laparoscopic hysterectomy. There is another procedure that is called Laparoscopic assisted vaginal hysterectomy in which uterus and cervix are removed through a vaginal incision. In some cases the instruments that are used to perform surgery are controlled mechanically by a computer interface. This type of surgery is called Robotic Assisted surgery. For Laparoscopic surgery the hospital stay is usually 1 to 2 days followed by 2-to-3 week time for recovery.
- Radical Hysterectomy: In this procedure the surgeon extracts the uterus along-with the tissue next to it and also about 1-inch of the vagina next to the cervix. This procedure does not involve the removal of ovaries and fallopian tubes unless the surgeon has good reason to do so. Lymph nodes are also removed during the surgery. The incision in this procedure is usually made in the abdomen. Another surgical procedure called laparoscopic-assisted radical vaginal hysterectomy involves radical vaginal hysterectomy with a pelvic node dissection. Laparoscope allows the doctor to see the insides of abdomen and pelvis with the help of a small camera inserted through a narrow tube. When a radical hysterectomy has to be performed through the abdomen, lymph nodes are removed as well. This is called laparoscopically assisted radical hysterectomy with lymphadenectomy.
- Radical Trachelectomy: This procedure allows for the uterus to be spared while the cervix is removed alongwith the upper part of the vagina. The surgeon then places a ‘purse string’ stich so that the remaining part of the cervix can act as an artificial opening of the cervix into the uterus. After this surgery, women are still able to conceive and deliver a healthy baby through a C-section. The risk of cancer returning after this procedure is low.
- Pelvic Exenteration: This is an extensive operation that is used to address recurrent cancers. In this procedure multiple organs can be removed such as the vagina, the bladder, rectum and part of the colon. Recovery from this procedure is rather slow and it can take as much as 6 months to recover fully. After the removal of the bladder and rectum, there has to be artificial replacements for the same. Often segments of intestines are made into bladder and a plastic bag serves as a rectum. Similarly vagina can be created out of skin, intestinal tissue or muscle and skin grafts.