Cervical cancer is a significant health concern in India, and it necessitates a deep understanding of the disease and a thorough exploration of its diagnostic and treatment protocols. At HCG, our specialists employ modern diagnostic and treatment protocols to diagnose, treat, and manage cervical cancer.
Specialists use multiple tests for cervical cancer diagnosis, and upon arriving at a conclusive diagnosis, they create a personalized treatment plan. The following are the most recommended tests for the diagnosis of cervical cancer:
A Pap smear test, also considered a cervical cancer screening tool, involves collecting and examining cells from the cervical lining for abnormalities.
The HPV DNA test involves collecting cervical cells and examining them for the presence of the DNA of high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) strains that are associated with cervical cancer.
Colposcopy involves visually examining the cervix for the presence of precancerous lesions or tumors. A colposcope is a specialized instrument that is externally positioned near the vaginal opening, and the regions of the vulva, vagina, and cervix are examined for any abnormalities.
A biopsy is an important diagnostic test for cervical cancer and is usually recommended for a conclusive diagnosis. During this procedure, a small sample of the cervix tissue is removed and examined under a microscope to look for the presence of cancerous cells.
Endocervical curettage is a type of biopsy wherein a spoon-like instrument, called a curette, is used to scrape tissue from the endocervical canal. The tissue collected is examined for the presence of cancerous cells.
The loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) is a type of biopsy wherein a thin wire loop is used to collect the cervical tissue sample. Electric current is passed through the wire loop, which then excises the tissue from the suspected area, and it is further examined in the lab for the presence of cancerous cells.
A cone biopsy is a form of biopsy wherein a cone-shaped piece of cervix tissue is collected. This procedure allows technicians to obtain a larger tissue sample. A cone biopsy may be recommended to treat abnormal cellular changes and precancerous lesions.
Imaging tests help in obtaining images of the internal structures of the organ examined, in this case, the cervix. Apart from the diagnosis of cervical cancer, imaging tests can also help in disease staging, treatment response monitoring, and relapse evaluation. The following are the imaging tests used for the diagnosis of cervical cancer:
Computed tomography (CT) scans are recommended to study the anatomical structure of the cervix. This imaging technique uses X-rays to obtain detailed images of the organ.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans use powerful magnetic fields and radio waves to create detailed images of the organ. Along with being an important diagnostic test for cervical cancer, it also serves as a staging tool for cervical cancer.
Positron emission tomography (PET) is another important imaging technique used in diagnosing cervical cancer through radiotracers. Unlike other imaging tests, a PET scan is used to study the biochemical activities of the tumor. PET scans help in assessing nodal involvement and distant metastases. For more accurate results, PET is often combined with CT.
Upon arriving at a definitive diagnosis, a personalized cervical cancer treatment plan is devised. The treatment may be unimodal (one treatment) or multimodal (a combination of two or more treatments) depending on multiple factors, such as the type of cervical cancer, its stage, its grade, the patient’s age, the patient’s overall health, and lastly, the patient’s preferences.
Surgery is often the first line of cervical cancer treatment or pelvic cancer treatment. Surgery is often recommended as a treatment for stage 1 cervical cancer. The goal of surgery is to remove as much tumor tissue as possible. Surgery may remove only the tumor or the entire organ, depending on the extent of the disease’s spread. Surgery is often combined with other treatment options like chemotherapy and radiation therapy to improve the overall effectiveness of the treatment.
Hysterectomy refers to the removal of the uterus. It is recommended as a cervical cancer treatment to treat cancer that has spread beyond the cervix but is confined to the pelvic area.
Trachelectomy is recommended as an early-stage cervical cancer treatment, wherein the cervix is removed and the uterus is left intact. This form of cervical cancer therapy is highly recommended for patients who wish to preserve their fertility.
This procedure involves the removal of lymph nodes close to the cervix and in the pelvic region and their examination for the presence of cancerous cells. Lymph node dissection plays a pivotal role in disease staging and guides cervical cancer treatment decisions.
Radiation therapy, or radiotherapy, is also one of the important cervical cancer treatment options. Radiotherapy for cervical cancer involves targeting the tumor with powerful and intense radiation beams, which damage the DNA structure of the tumor cells and stop them from growing. With the advanced technology available today, we can precisely target the tumor while reducing damage to the nearby healthy tissues.
Radiotherapy for cervical cancer is often recommended after surgery to destroy the residual cancer cells, which is important in reducing the risk of recurrence.
External beam radiation therapy is a form of radiation therapy wherein the radiation beams are delivered from an external source through a linear accelerator. External beam radiation therapy is highly precise and effective in shrinking tumors, destroying residual cancer cells, alleviating pain and discomfort associated with cervical cancer, and reducing the risk of recurrences.
Brachytherapy for cervical cancer, or internal beam radiation therapy, involves placing a radiation source inside (interstitial) or close to the tumor (intracavitary). This form of cervical cancer therapy facilitates better targeting and high-dose radiation delivery while minimizing damage to nearby tissues.
Chemotherapy is another important cervical cancer treatment option, wherein specialists recommend potent medication for cervical cancer management. Cervical cancer chemotherapy involves the use of powerful drugs to destroy cancerous cells throughout the body. This treatment is usually recommended if the disease has spread to different organs in the body.
Chemotherapy may be administered before the surgery (neoadjuvant chemotherapy) or after the surgery (adjuvant chemotherapy) to shrink the tumor or destroy the residual cancer cells, respectively. Cervical cancer chemotherapy is administered orally or intravenously, depending on individual case parameters.
Systemic chemotherapy involves administering powerful anti-cancer drugs into the bloodstream; these drugs circulate throughout the body and destroy the cancer cells. Systemic chemotherapy is recommended for advanced-stage cervical cancers. Systemic chemotherapy for cervical cancer may or may not be combined with other cervical cancer treatment options. Systemic chemotherapy is used to slow down the disease progression and alleviate symptoms associated with cervical cancer.
Concurrent chemoradiation is also an important cervical cancer treatment approach that combines chemotherapy with radiation therapy. The enhanced effectiveness of this combined treatment approach positively impacts clinical outcomes and supports better success rates. Chemotherapy may sensitize the cancer cells to radiation therapy, which improves the overall treatment effectiveness.
Concurrent chemoradiation helps shrink the tumor size, destroy the residual cancer cells, and delay disease progression.
Targeted therapy is one of the latest cervical cancer treatments, wherein specific molecules and cellular pathways that are responsible for cancer growth are targeted. Cervical cancer medicines administered as a part of targeted therapy block the activity of those specific molecules and pathways and affect cancer growth. Targeted therapy is often recommended when standard treatments fail to show a desirable response. One of the biggest advantages of targeted therapy is that it significantly reduces damage to healthy tissues in the body.
Immunotherapy is one of the new treatments for cervical cancer, wherein the patient’s immune system is re-engineered to identify and attack the cancer cells in the body. For cervical cancer, immune checkpoint inhibitors are administered as a part of immunotherapy, and they work by blocking the proteins that stop the immune system from identifying and attacking the cancer cells. Immunotherapy for cervical cancer may be recommended when the standard treatments become ineffective, or it may be recommended along with the standard treatments for better treatment effectiveness.
Clinical trials involve testing new drugs, treatment combinations, and treatment approaches for effective cervical cancer management. Those cervical cancer patients who have exhausted all their treatment options may enroll in clinical trials, as these provide them with an option to try out new treatments before they are widely available.
Participation in clinical trials is voluntary, and patients must have a detailed discussion with their expert team before enrolling, as not all patients are eligible to participate in a clinical trial. To learn more about enrolling in clinical trials for cervical cancer management, please talk to a specialist.
As the best cervical cancer treatment hospital in India, HCG is committed to delivering the highest quality diagnostic and treatment support to cervical cancer patients across the country. The entire team at HCG practices a personalized and patient-centric care approach wherein the patient is at the center of their treatment journey and receives the treatment, care, and attention that are designed just for them.
Along with access to leading-edge diagnostic and treatment facilities, patients are also given access to clinical trials to help them access newer treatment approaches to manage and improve their condition. The comfortable care setting at HCG has helped millions of patients receive the best treatment for cervical cancer.
The field of cervical cancer diagnosis and treatment is consistently evolving, and patients are able to access better diagnostic and treatment facilities today. That said, regular screening and being mindful of different symptoms are still important for the early detection and timely treatment of cervical cancer, and they significantly impact clinical outcomes.