Primary care for you and your family, close to home.
Wellstar Health System provides superior care for cervical cancer, offering a comprehensive spectrum of top-notch physicians, treatment options and diagnostic tools. In addition Wellstar offers such innovative advances in the fight against cervical cancer, including:
Cervical cancer, or cancer of the small organ connecting the uterus and vagina, is one of the most prevalent cancers among women in developing nations. But cervical cancer incidence in the United States has declined over the last several decades, mostly due to screenings with the Pap test, which detects abnormalities in the cervix early. About 12,100 women will develop cervical cancer this year in the US, and about 4,200 women are expected to die from the disease. Most of those cases will be from advanced disease.
However, cervical cancer in its early stages has a survival rate of about 91%. As many as 80% of women diagnosed with advanced disease have not had a Pap test in at least five years.
Also, the development of vaccines to thwart the human papillomaviruses (HPV), that cause cervical cancer, has proven successful in preventing the disease. For the vaccines to be effective, however, they must be administered before a girl or woman has become sexually active. The American Cancer Society recommends vaccination for girls as young as 9 and up until age 18. Studies on the effectiveness of the vaccine for young women 19 to 26 have not been conclusive, so the ACS recommends that women in this age group discuss vaccination with their physicians. Your Wellstar gynecologist will be able to discuss the vaccines available and whether they might be of benefit to you.
Wellstar supports scientific research that shows certain lifestyle choices can lower a person’s risk.
The invention of a vaccine to immunize girls from the HPV is being hailed as a major breakthrough. However, before the vaccine was approved by the nation’s Food and Drug Administration, the Pap test—once called a Pap smear—began to cut cervical cancer rates dramatically.
Pap tests, which involve taking a small sample of tissue from the cervix with a small, spatula-type instrument and a swab, detect abnormalities in cervical cells long before they develop into cancer.
The American Cancer Society and Wellstar physicians recommend yearly Pap tests from the time a girl or woman becomes sexually active until age 30. At that time, if a woman has not had an abnormal Pap test in three years, the ACS recommends a Pap Test once every three years. However, women who have gone through menopause as well as women who are no longer sexually active still need to have Pap tests—with 20 percent of those diagnosed with cervical cancer being older than 65.
The Pap test. Few cancers have as effective a screening test as the one for cervical cancer. Thus, your Wellstar physician will recommend that you follow the guidelines of the American Cancer Society and begin having annual Pap tests as soon as you become sexually active.
HPV DNA test. This HPV DNA test is used to determine whether you are infected with any of the 13 types of HPV that are most likely to lead to cervical cancer. Like the Pap test, the HPV DNA test involves collecting cells from the cervix for lab testing. (The HPV DNA test is not typically performed in women who have normal Pap smear results.)
Many cervical cancers are discovered before they can be seen or felt. If a patient is experiencing symptoms of cervical cancer, her physicians might conduct a:
When cervical cancer is diagnosed, your Wellstar physician will categorize it by its current stage. Each stage describes how large the tumor is and whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. You should talk to your Wellstar physician to understand each stage, and what it means for your treatment plan.
Once cancer has been detected, biopsied and “staged”, your team of specialists in gynecological oncology, surgery, radiation oncology, radiology and pathology will work together to assess your best course of cervical cancer treatment. This will include formulating a coordinated plan of personalized treatment consistent with the highest standards of care. Your treatment will be tailored to your specific stage of cervical cancer, and it may involve a combination of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or hormonal drugs and targeted therapies.
Surgical treatment of precancerous cells often referred to as dysplasia typically requires treatment to merely remove the abnormal area of cells. Procedures to remove precancerous cells include:
For some patients, the earliest Stage 1 cervical cancers can be treated with lesser surgery to preserve fertility. Most women, however, beyond Stage 1, will require radical hysterectomy. Radical hysterectomy involves the removal of the cervix, uterus, part of the vagina and lymph nodes in the area.
da Vinci® robotic surgery allows radical hysterectomy through small surgical holes to minimize pain, length of hospital stay and recovery time. Wellstar gynecological oncology surgeons have national reputations in this realm, having published articles in the field and performing more da Vinci® robotic surgeries than almost all health facilities in the nation. This level of experience makes Wellstar a first choice for da Vinci® robotic surgery.
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs given by mouth or injection to destroy cancer cells. It can be used to assist in the cure of cancer patients or to prolong life or the quality of life.
The chemotherapy drug cisplatin is often combined with radiation therapy to enhance overall treatment effectiveness for cervical cancer.
Medical oncologists at Wellstar believe in a personalized approach to cervical cancer therapy—often guided by the genetics of the cancer and the condition of the patient.
Radiation therapy for cervical cancer involves the use of high-energy radiation and/or radioactive substances to destroy cervical cancer cells or prevent the cells from reproducing. Radiation therapy is as effective as surgery for early-stage cervical cancer.
Wellstar offers standard radiation and cutting edge techniques, including:
You’ll be referred after your recovery from cervical cancer surgery to Wellstar’s gynecology or medical oncology team for treatment, surveillance and survivorship programs. These comprehensive programs focus on diet, exercise and nutrition to help you reduce the risk of recurrence.
Cancer care at Wellstar is more than advanced technology, clinical research, and highly specialized physicians and nurses. It includes an array of supportive care services to improve the patient experience before, during and after treatment. All of these services are available within the Wellstar system, including:
Wellstar offers caring and compassionate hospice care for patients and their families in one of Georgia’s oldest hospice programs serving Bartow, Cherokee, Cobb, Douglas and Paulding counties. Our certified palliative care physicians and certified registered nurses are dedicated to providing compassionate, quality care in various settings, including home hospice, inpatient hospice nursing homes, assisted living facilities and nursing homes.