The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 4,200 women may die in a year from cervical cancer. This type of cancer occurs in the cervix and is treatable if caught early. Anne O. Rodriguez, MD, of Gynecologic Oncology Specialists, is an expert at helping women diagnosed with cervical cancer. With availability to patients in Ventura, Lompoc, and Santa Barbara, California, you can rest assured that your treatment is in the best hands. Call or schedule online to consult with Dr. Rodriguez and learn your cervical cancer treatment options.
Cervical cancer is in the cervix, the lowest part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. Most often, cervical cancer occurs due to your exposure to HPV, or the human papillomavirus. Not all strains of HPV cause the cell changes that cause cervical cancer, but in some people, the virus does have this effect.
Regular Pap smears help screen you for the cell changes that indicate you’re at risk of cervical cancer. An abnormal Pap smear doesn’t mean you have cancer, but that you have suspicious changes in the cells of the cervix that warrant further investigation and possible removal before cancer develops. A vaccine is available to young girls and women to protect against HPV.
In its earliest stages, cervical cancer has no signs or symptoms. This is why regular Pap smears that reveal early changes are so critical in saving lives.
In more advanced cases of the disease, a woman might experience:
Cervical cancer may appear as squamous cell carcinoma or adenocarcinoma. Squamous cell cancer appears in the lining in the outer part of the cervix; this is the most common type. Adenocarcinoma forms in the cells that line the cervical canal. In rare cases, you may have cancer form in both sets of cells.
If Dr. Rodriguez suspects cervical cancer, she does a comprehensive evaluation of your cervix during a procedure called a colposcopy. During this exam at Gynecologic Oncology Specialists, she takes a sample of cervical cells as a biopsy for lab testing.
If cervical cancer is detected, she continues with several screening tests to see the extent of the disease. Imaging tests, such as MRIs, and a visual exam of your bladder and rectum help see if cancer has spread.
Treatment depends on the stage of your cancer, your personal preferences, and your health status. Dr. Rodriguez addresses early-stage cervical cancer with minimally invasive surgery.
For a very small cancer, she may remove all of the cancer with a cone biopsy. In some cases, she may need to remove the cervix or the entire cervix and uterus with a hysterectomy. These surgeries may be accompanied by radiation or chemotherapy if the cancer has spread.
If you have cervical cancer, call Gynecologic Oncology Specialists or schedule a consultation online to learn about your treatment options.