The stage of cervical cancer is determined by the size of the tumor, its depth in the epithelium, spread to nearby tissues and metastasis to distant organs. Often the disease proceeds without any initial signs. They appear when cancer spreads to neighboring organs. Consider the signs of cervical cancer at an early stage.
Signs of cervical cancer
The international gynecological organization has developed a classification of cervical carcinoma for widespread use:
- Stage I: strict localization of the tumor in the uterine cervix;
- Stage II: cancer spreads beyond the collar area to the upper part of the vagina;
- Stage III: the invasion of cancer in the vagina in full, it is possible to spread to the pelvic walls, blocking the ureter, which causes swelling of the kidneys or makes them difficult to work;
- Stage IV: the defeat of the metastases of the urinary system, rectum, as well as possible spread beyond the pelvic area and metastasis to the lungs, liver and organs of the peritoneum.
Early cervical tumor often proceeds without causing certain symptoms. That is why systematic gynecological monitoring is very important as a method for the timely detection of a tumor. However, some symptoms of cervical cancer may still appear at an early stage. These include:
- bleeding after having sex;
- painful intercourse;
- bleeding outside menstruation;
- pain in the reproductive organs;
- discomfort when urinating, painful tension with constant urge to defecate;
- painful spasms in the back;
- pale watery vaginal discharge;
- pink, brown or bloody discharge between periods;
- unusually long or heavy menstrual periods;
- bleeding from the vagina during menopause;
- bleeding caused by a gynecological examination or douching;
- stench of vagina.
Such signs of cancer in the cervix are not specific for this disease and may have other causes. It is important to report them to your doctor in order to determine the origin of such symptoms.
How quickly does cervical carcinoma develop?
The development of metastases is the evolution of any cancer. Metastases are formed from metastatic cells, which are separated from the tumor and migrate into the bloodstream. As a result, these cells form a small group that will be located in the capillaries and infect other tissues at a distance from the tumor.
Metastatic cells pierce the walls of blood vessels and colonize a new place in the body. They can also migrate to the lymphatic system and infect the lymph nodes. Lymph nodes at diagnosis indicate an increased risk of spreading cancer.
If untreated, most cancers develop in the same pattern, but at very different speeds and modes of spread. This is called a natural cancer history, that is, development without any intervention. Cervical cancer develops quite quickly, since its distribution in the body is due to the constant changes in hormonal levels that occur regularly in women as the monthly cycle approaches. From the moment of diagnosing the first stage, only a few months elapse before the end of the natural history of fourth-degree cervical carcinoma.
Doctors usually describe the development of cervical carcinoma based on the structures in which a tumor grows or where cancer cells spread. After the tumor has damaged the connective tissues that support the cervix, it can develop in nearby organs:
- in the vagina;
- completely captures the uterus;
- in loose connective tissues around the neck;
- in the pelvis and on its walls;
- in the bladder;
- spread to the rectum.
Cancer cells also spread from the tumor to adjacent and distant lymph nodes. The following lymph nodes are most commonly affected:
- around the abdominal aorta;
- in the posterior region of the abdomen or in the paraaortic nodes;
- in the chest or mediastinal nodes;
Understanding what type of cancer the doctor deals with, which usually determines the growth rate and nature of the spread of the tumor, helps to plan the necessary treatment and care.
What are the predictions about complete recovery?
It is quite normal that in women with stage 1 cervical cancer, the question arises how long they live with such a diagnosis and what is the prognosis for recovery. The prognosis of tumor growth is determined by many factors. The main ones are:
- The volume of the tumor and its size, as well as the degree of localization. So, small size, volume and degree of localization are more favorable prognostic factors.
- Stage of development of cancer. The earliest diagnosis of the disease significantly increases the prognosis for recovery.
- The extent of dissemination in the blood and lymphatic system is the so-called lymphovascular invasion. Cancer that has not spread to the blood or lymphatic vessels is easier to treat.
- Patient age and general health. Young women tend to have a better prognosis. Also, patients whose overall health is good have a better chance of recovery.
- Type of tumor. Squamous cell carcinoma tends to produce a better prognosis than adenocarcinoma.
- The presence of anemia adversely affects the prognosis.
- A normal level of squamous cell carcinoma antigen before treatment begins increases the chances of recovery.
- Smoking significantly worsens the prognosis.
- Women with HIV tend to have a poor prognosis.
Early detection of cervical cancer at an early stage greatly increases the chances of successful treatment. That is why all women are recommended to regularly visit a gynecologist for examination. Be healthy!