CERVIX, CANCER OF
are then analysed in order to verify
the identity of the organism that is
responsible for the condition.
Treatment is with
antibiotic drugs
or
antiviral drugs
.
If symptoms persist, the
area may be cauterized by
electrocoagu-
lation
(an electric current is applied),
cryotherapy
,
(freezing), or
lasertreatment
.
BIOPSY OF THE CERVIX
If a woman has recurrent abnormal
smears, colposcopy and punch
biopsy or loop excision of the
abnormal areas will be carried out.
If the areas cannot be seen
completely by colposcopy, a larger
sample of tissue is removed by cone
biopsy. This procedure is used for
treatment as well as diagnosis.
Colposcopic view of cervix
This end-on view of the cervix shows moderate
dysplasia (abnormal changes in the cells),
with a discharge at the central canal.
Punch biopsy
Small samples
are taken from
any abnormal area.
Bleeding is minimal
following a punch
biopsy and no
stitches are
needed.
Cone biopsy
If the abnormal area
extends into the
cervical canal, out
of view of the
colposcope, a cone-
shaped sample,
including abnormal
cells, is taken using
a scalpel, laser, or,
most commonly, loop
excision. No stitches
are needed.
cervix
A
small,
cylindrical
organ,
several
centimetres in length and less than
2.5
cm
in
diameter,
comprising the
lower
part
and neck
of the
uterus
(w om b). The cervix separates the body
and
cavity
of the uterus
from
the
vagina
.
The fibrous, smooth muscle tis-
sue of the cervix creates a form of
sphincter (circular muscle), w hich can
stretch open in
pregnancy
and
childbirth
.
FUNCTION
The cervical canal runs through the
cervix. It allows the passage o f blood
during
menstruation
and o f
sperm
from
the vagina into the uterus following
sexual intercourse, and forms part o f
the birth canal during childbirth. After
puberty, mucus is secreted by the glan-
dular cells in the canal to assist the
entry o f sperm into the upper cervix.
In addition, the mucus protects the
sperm and provides them with energy.
During pregnancy, the internal mus-
cular fibres increase in size, thereby
lengthening the cervix and acting as a
barrier for the retention o f the fetus.
Towards the
end o f pregnancy,
the
cervix begins to shorten in readiness
for labour and delivery. During labour
the cervical canal widens up to 10 cm
in diameter to allow the baby to pass
from the uterus. Soon after childbirth,
the muscles in the cervix contract and
the canal returns to its original size.
DISORDERS
The cervix may be injured, or may
develop infections or other disorders
(see
cervix
disorders box, below). Such
conditions are usually investigated by
means of a
pelvic examination
,
a
cervical
smear test
,
or swabs taken from the
cervix. In cases of suspected cancer or a
precancerous
condition,
a
colposcopy
(inspection of the cervix with a view-
ing instrument) may be performed.
cervix, cancer of
One of the most common forms of
cancer
affecting
women
worldwide.
Cancer of the
cervix
(the neck of the
uterus) has well-defined precancerous
stages
in
w hich
abnormal
changes
occur in cells on the surface of the
cervix
(see
cervical dysplasia
) .
These
type of changes can be detected by a
cervical smear test
.
In many cases, this
detection allows early treatment lead-
ing to a complete cure. If left untreated,
however,
cancer
of the
cervix may
spread to the organs in the
pelvis
.
TYPES
There are two main types of cervical
cancer: the squamous type and a much
rarer form called adenocarcinoma.
The squamous type of cervical can-
cer is thought to be associated with
some
types
of
human papillomavirus
(HPV), w hich may be contracted dur-
ing sexual intercourse. The other factors
that predispose a woman to developing
this type of cancer are smoking, start-
ing to have sex at an early age, having
many sexual partners, and having a
depressed immune system.
The second type of cervical cancer,
adenocarcinoma, sometimes occurs in
women w ho have never had sexual
intercourse. Its causes are unknown.
SYMPTOMS
In many cases, cancer of the cervix is
detected before symptoms develop. If
DISORDERS OF THE CERVIX
The
cervix
(neck of the uterus) may
be susceptible to injuries, infections,
tumours, and other conditions.
Injury
Minor injury to the cervix may occur
during childbirth, particularly if labour
is prolonged. Persistent damage to
muscle fibres as a result of injury may
lead to
cervical incompetence.
Infection
The most common cervical infections
are sexually transmitted diseases, such
as
gonorrhoea, chlamydial infections,
and
trichomoniasis.
Viral infections of the
cervix include those due to the human
papillomavirus and the herpes simplex
virus (see
warts, genital; herpes, genital).
Tumours
Polyps
are noncancerous growths that
occur on the cervix. Cancerous growths
(see
cervix, cancer of)
are preceded by
changes in the surface cells (
cervical
dysplasia
)
,
which can be detected by
a
cervical smear test.
Other disorders
Cervical ectopy
is a condition in which
mucus-secreting cells form on the
outside of the cervix.
C
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