The neck of the uterus, called the cervix, is lined with cells which, under ordinary circumstances grow, divide and are replaced on an ongoing basis. This process called mitosis occurs throughout the body to ensure that the health and function of the cells, tissues and organ systems are maintained at optimal levels.
However, when cells divide, the good, the bad, and the ugly are replicated in the subsequent daughter cells. Cervical cancer results from a mutation in the cellular lining of the cervix, which spreads via mitosis to normal tissues and organs. Should this abnormal cell division go undetected and/or untreated, tumors will form and extensive spreading of the cancer (metastasis) will likely occur.
Most illnesses, including cancer, originate as a result of multiple factors working in concert. In the case of cervical cancer, there is no single cause. Rather, the initial cellular mutation is most likely triggered by one or a combination of conditions. Below are the primary causes of cervical cancer:
Cancer of the cervix rarely exhibits early symptoms. By the time advanced cervical cancer symptoms are apparent, the cancer has likely metastasized 7 - in other words, it has likely replicated and spread to other parts of the body. When they do present, symptoms of advanced cervical cancer may include:
However, these symptoms of cervical cancer can also be indicative of many other conditions, most of them benign. Always consult your doctor for professional diagnosis of any medical condition.
Although most cervical cancer and early symptoms are seemingly invisible, there may be signs at the cellular level. These early signs are detectable via Pap tests administered in standard pelvic examinations. In fact, Pap tests can identify suspicious cellular activity long before it becomes a threat to a woman's health. 10
Benign cells may become misshapen and divide abnormally and at an accelerated rate. This may sound like a symptom of cervical cancer, as described earlier, but in fact the cervical cells may be benign or precancerous. 11
Precancerous cells often behave like cancer cells. Indeed, they may turn into cancer cells if they are not treated. Typically, it takes several years for precancerous cells to mutate into cancer cells. So, rather than watching for symptoms of cervical cancer, your gynecologist will look for suspicious cell activity early during regular pelvic exams.
Scheduling regular pelvic exams is an important step women can take in order to prevent cervical cancer from ever presenting.
While clinical studies support the effectiveness of the da Vinci ® System when used in minimally invasive surgery, individual results may vary. Surgery with the da Vinci ® Surgical System may not be appropriate for every individual. Always ask your doctor about all treatment options, as well as their risks and benefits.
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