Does Cervical Cancer Spread Fast?
After diagnosis, many patients have the question, “Does Cervical Cancer Spread Fast?”. In most cases, cervical cancer is a slow growing disease. However, the various types of cervical cancer can behave differently, with some more aggressive than others. Roughly 90% of cases are identified as squamous cell carcinoma. The rest of the cases are labeled as Adenocarcinoma. Approximately 200 of the over 11,000 total cases diagnosed in the United States each year will be classified as small cell cervical cancer (SCCC) or large cell cervical cancer, both aggressive variants. Every patient is different, some precancerous cells in the cervix can be present for several years before developing into cancer.
Cervical cancer starts as precancer in the cells on the cervix floor. Untreated cervical cancer can spread to the bladder, intestines, lymph nodes, bones, lungs, and liver. Cervical cancer happens when cells in the cervix develop and divide uncontrollably. Unlike many different cancers whose causes are largely still unknown, cervical cancer is most frequently attributable to human papillomavirus (HPV).
Most HPV-associated cancers are a type of cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. Some cervical cancers come from HPV infection of gland cells within the cervix and are known as adenocarcinomas. Precancerous cervical cell changes and early cancers of the cervix usually don't trigger signs & symptoms. For this, regular screening through Pap Smear and HPV exams might help catch precancerous cell adjustments early and prevent the development of cervical cancer.
Signs and Symptoms of Cervical Cancer
44% of cervical cancer cases are diagnosed in early stages (Stages 0-2). Early stage cases have a much higher survival rate and treatment is more likely to be successful. More than half of patients are diagnosed in advanced stages. Symptoms in the early stages of cervical cancer are not as severe and can be mistaken for other illnesses. Early symptoms include:
- Blood spotting and bleeding in between periods
- Vaginal discharge
- Postmenopausal bleeding and spotting
- Bleeding during and after sexual intercourse
More severe symptoms in advanced stages include:
- Pain in the back, pelvis and/or legs
- Increased vaginal discharge and discomfort
- Swelling in both or one lower extremities
- Unexpected weight loss and fatigue
If you are experiencing more severe symptoms, a bone biopsy can be performed to see if metastasis to the bone has occurred. Otherwise, two imaging tests can be performed to confirm the metastasis including a bone scan, X-ray, MRI, or PET scan. Typical symptoms of bone metastasis include a pathological fracture, pain, and fatigue.
Stages of Cervical Cancer
Stage 0: Cervical dysplasia or Precancerous cells are detected. A biopsy is initially performed to identify any abnormalities. If found, surgery is performed to remove all of the precancerous cells.
Stage 1: Cancer has not spread outside the cervix.
Stage 2: The cancer has spread but is within the pelvic wall. The cancer is not in present in the lower third of the vagina.
Stage 3: Cancer has spread to either further than the pelvic wall or to the lower third of the vagina.
Stage 4: The cancer has spread beyond the pelvis, or into the bladder or rectum.
Further categorizations such as an A or B are used based on the exact size of the primary tumor and exact location of metastasis.
For the earliest stages of cervical cancer, either surgical procedure or radiation mixed with chemo may be used. For advanced stages, radiation combined with chemo is normally the principle treatment method. If first-line treatments are unsuccessful, clinical trials are a viable option for many patients.
The most common symptom of cancer that has spread to the bone is bone ache. This might lead to swelling in your legs because of fluid buildup. The most common symptom that happens the cancer spreads to the lymph nodes, is that they really feel hard or swollen. When additional symptoms are experienced, your physician should be notified. To search for new treatment options, Massive Bio offers a comprehensive case review from cervical cancer specialists to recommend the best individual treatment option for you.
Does Cervical Cancer Spread Fast, Is It Treatable?
Cervical cancer is curable, particularly when handled in an early stage. More than 90% of ladies with stage 0 survive at least 5 years after analysis. If you’re between ages 30 to 65, you should get both a Pap test and an HPV test every 5 years. Those with known risk factors should receive tests more often. Massive Bio can search through the thousands of available clinical trials to find personalized matches for your specific case of cervical cancer.