Cervical cancer manifests itself only a few centimeters from the uterus, where uterine cancer develops. Despite having close proximity in their origins, their developmental causes are very different. The fact that both cancer types have relatively high survival rates is perhaps very encouraging. However, a lot of this depends on early diagnosis and detection. In order to get a precise diagnosis and effective treatment, it is crucial to understand their differences. This article explores their symptomatic similarities, and diagnostic differences as well as how each employs a unique approach to their treatment.
How does one find out if their cervix or uterus has any cancerous growths?
Any cancer that develops in the cells of the cervix is ‘cervical cancer’. The reproductive system includes cervix, which links the vagina to the main body of the uterus. Cervical cancer is classified by the type of cell affected, much like other types of cancer. Whereas any cancer that affects the uterus is ‘uterine cancer‘. The uterus is a hollow organ above the cervix that essentially serves as the home for a developing foetus. And this close proximity may be a very compelling argument for an association between uterine and cervical cancers. However, the difference between the two can be on the basis of their clinical symptoms and underlying developmental causes.
Remember, unusual vaginal discharge with possible blood content is one of the most typical signs of cervical cancer. It is possible for this abnormal vaginal bleeding to happen after sexual intercourse, in between periods, or even after menopause. Additionally, the cancerous growth may cause heavier or longer menstrual flow as well as generalised pelvic pain. Swollen legs, blood in the urine, and general problems with bowel movements and even urination may be symptoms of advanced cervical malignancies.
The primary symptom of uterine cancer is abnormal vaginal bleeding, but other signs and symptoms include irregular periods, bleeding or spotting in between periods, and postmenopausal bleeding. This is due to the fact that uterine cancer affects the endometrium (a part of the uterus) the most.
Please be aware that cancer may not always be the reason of such symptoms. So, consult a gynecologist for the correct diagnosis.
What distinguishes uterine cancer from cervical cancer?
Despite some similarities in symptoms, identifying the type of cancer usually aids in differentiating between the two. The standard screening method is the Pap cytology test, which was introduced in the 1940s to detect abnormal cervical cells. There may be a close link of the prevalence of cervical cancer to the human papillomavirus (HPV). And a two-way HPV approach can be used to detect this association.
For uterine or endometrial cancer, there is, regrettably, no reliable screening method. However, a family history, abnormal vaginal bleeding, an endometrial biopsy, and CA125 level monitoring are some of the techniques that doctors use to detect endometrial cancer. All of these methods may not be reliable.
What are the treatment options for uterine and cervical cancer?
Both types of cancer typically have comparable treatment options. Uterine cancer primarily entails surgically removing the cancerous cells and any surrounding tissues. Please keep in mind that surgical removal to varying degrees is possible depending on the spread of the cancer cells. The affected reproductive organs are typically removed during the procedure. The uterus, fallopian tubes, and possibly the ovaries are the main organs of the female reproductive system. Despite the fact that it is a highly effective cancer treatment, this may cause early menopause. The removal of the uterus and ovaries also prevents conception. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or hormone therapy can be some of the treatment options for the advanced stages.
The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) clinical staging criteria, on the other hand, are the foundation for cervical cancer treatment. If there is early detection of cervical precancerous lesions, low-cost technologies like cryotherapy, loop electrosurgical excision, or thermocoagulation could be employed for their treatment. Surgical treatment options for the early stages of the disease include hysterectomy and pelvic lymphadenectomy. Chemotherapy, external beam radiation, and brachytherapy are additional therapeutic options for patients with advanced disease.
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