Early cervical cancer may not show any noticeable signs or symptoms. Below are some symptoms of cervical cancer although other conditions may also cause those symptoms:
A doctor should be consulted if the symptoms above occur
These are two ways to prevent cervical cancer:
A pap smear test is a simple procedure where cells are collected from the surface of the cervix and then sent to a laboratory to detect any abnormality. All sexually active women between 25 and 69 years old are advised to have a pap smear test regularly (every 3 years on average).
If you have an abnormal pap smear, the doctor may want to examine you closer by doing a procedure called colposcopy.
Colposcopy is a procedure in which the doctor uses a colposcope (a lighted, magnifying instrument) to check the vagina and cervix for abnormal areas. It is not inserted into the vagina.
Cervical cancer is caused by a common virus called the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Being vaccinated against HPV is recommended for all young women aged 9 to 26.
The HPV vaccine works best if given before the first sexual intercourse. Talk to your doctor to see if you are eligible for the vaccine. A 2 dose regime can be given for girls between the ages 9 and 14 years old. For those who are 5 years old and older, a 3 dose regime is recommended over 6 months.
There are different treatments available for cervical cancer depending on the stage of cervical cancer, Factors other than the stage of the cancer that might have an impact on your treatment decision include your age, your overall health, and your own preferences. The three main types of treatment include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.
Surgery is usually the first treatment for cancer of the cervix in the early stages (where cancer is confined to the cervix). The most common treatment is the hysterectomy to remove the uterus (womb) and cervix. The neighbouring reproductive organs such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes may be removed. However this depends on other factors such as your age.
Some patients with the earliest stage cervical cancers can be treated with cervical conisation (cone biopsy) or simple hysterectomy alone.
Radiation therapy is cancer treatment that uses high energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or to keep them from growing. There are two types of radiation therapy – external and internal. The way the radiation therapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.
Radiation can be used after surgery for early stage cervical cancer. It is also the main treatment for later stage (stage 2 and above) cancers. For cervical cancer, when radiation is the main treatment, it is often given along with low doses of chemotherapy for it to work better.
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to help kill cancer cells and shrink the size of the tumour. It is often combined with radiation therapy. Usually the drugs are given into a vein. Once the drugs enter the bloodstream, they spread throughout the body. In cervical cancer, chemotherapy is also given to women with advanced or recurrent cancer.
Senior Consultant Radiation Oncologist, Medical Director, MBBS (Aust), FRANZCR (Radiation Oncology), FAMS.
Dr Tang obtained his medical degree from the University of Newcastle, Australia in 1998, and completed his house officer training at the Hunter Area Health Service in Australia. After his successful training, Dr Tang returned to Singapore to start his speciality training in Radiation Oncology at the National University Hospital (NUH). Obtaining his fellowship from the Royal Australian College of Radiologist (FRANZCR) in 2006, Dr Tang underwent fellowships in breast brachytherapy at the University of Wisconsin and Arizona Breast Cancer Specialist Centre, as well as prostate brachytherapy, skin and paediatric fellowships at Peter Maccallum Cancer Institute, Australia.
Dr Johann Tang is an experienced radiation oncologist in Singapore who provides quality cancer treatment using radiation therapy for patients diagnosed with various types of cancer. As the radiotherapy treatment in Singapore can be unfamiliar to patients, he will be there to provide constant encouragement and personalised care. With ethics and empathy at the core of their practice, Dr Tang and his team of capable staff strive to understand each patient’s individual needs, allowing them to provide care that is compassionate and responsive.
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