Cervical Cancer, just like all cancers, is a complex cancer of the cervix. The National Cancer Institute describes the cervix as the lower, narrow part of the uterus (womb). The uterus, a hollow, pear-shaped organ, is located in a woman's lower abdomen, between the bladder and the rectum. The cervix forms a canal that opens into the vagina, which leads to the outside of the body (What You Need to Know about Cancer of the Cervix).

The Family Guide to Women's Health and Prescription Drugs explains that the cervix is lined with mucous membrane similar to that found inside the mouth, and is made up of connective tissue (Cervical Cancer: The One That's Preventable). Cervical cancer, just like all cancers, is caused by cells in the cervix becoming abnormal. Once this happens the cells begin dividing as part of their daily routine and eventually, if not found, will invade the deep layers of the cervix. The cancerous cells will divide and form a mass of tissue-the tissue either being benign (not harmful) or malignant (cancerous).

A woman may never know without regular medical attention and checkups that she even has anything wrong with her body. Regular symptoms of irregular bleeding and discomfort during urination may occur but not in all cases in all women. So the first step to even solving the problem is diagnosing it. Many tests are available to let women know if something is wrong with their bodies.

The most common and most effective in general cases are the Pap Smear Test (What You Need to Know about Cancer of the Cervix). In this test the doctor checks the uterus, vagina, ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder, and the rectum for any abnormalities (What You Need to Know about Cancer of the Cervix). Other tests for cervical cancer are also available, such as the Thin prep Pap Test, the Speculoscopy, the Schiller Test and Colposcopy, the Cytoscopy, the Ct Scan, MRI, and the Intravenous pyelogram (FTP). After a woman has been diagnosed with cervical cancer she has many options for treatment, however there are no cures for cervical cancer.

So prevention should be the first step. The Gail Encyclopedia of Medicine states that the cause of cervical cancer is not known. However, certain factors are believed to increase one's risk of developing cervical cancer. Engaging in sexual activity at a young age is one such factor. The cells lining the cervix do not fully mature until the age of 18 and, therefore, are more susceptible to cancer causing-agents and viruses (Cervical Cancer: Lata Cherath). Smoking is considered a risk factor also, possible because smoking causes some abnormal cell changes in the cells and these cells have a higher likelihood of becoming cancerous (Cervical Cancer: Lata Cherath).

More than 90% of women with cancer of the cervix are infected with the human papilloma virus (HPV). The virus is passed from one person to another during unprotected sex. Hence, HPV infection is the single most important risk factor for cervical cancer. Having multiple sexual partners increases one's risk of getting this cancer, because the greater the number of sexual partners, the greater is the risk of acquiring HPV infection (Cervical Cancer: Lata Cherath). Cancer however is not always caused by these things. When a woman does obtain cervical cancer and has been diagnosed by a doctor she needs to start treatment immediately to insure that the cancer does not become invasive or further invasive, and to insure that it does not spread to other parts of the body-which can be fatal.

The type of the treatment depends on the stage of the cancer and the extent of its spread (Cervical Cancer: Lata Cherath). The most common form of treatment is surgery. For example many women choose to have a Hysterectomy. This form of surgery removes the entire uterus, the ovaries, the upper part of the vagina that is next to the cervix and the lymph nodes from the pelvic region. This method removes all of the reproductive organs to insure that the cancer can not affect the cervix or other parts. Another type is Radiation Therapy.

This uses high-energy rays to damage cancer cells and stop them from growing. The radiation can affect cancer cell only in the treated area (What You Need to Know about Cancer of the Cervix). Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. It is most often used when cervical cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

The doctor may use just one drug or a combination of drugs. The drugs may be given by injection into a vein or by mouth (What You Need to Know about Cancer of the Cervix). It is not the most common form of treatment for cervical cancer because it is not as effective as other methods (Cervical Cancer: Lata Cherath). Another form of treatment for cervical cancer is Biological therapy.

This treatment uses substances to improve the way the body's immune system fights disease. It can be used just on cervical cancer or on cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. Usually it is used in combination with Chemotherapy (What You Need to Know about Cancer of the Cervix). I found three new innovations in the ways that scientists are trying to treat cancer.

The first article focused mainly on invasive cervical cancer. The Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the Indiana University School of Medicine is focusing on trying to identify better candidates for chemo radiation, and the development of innovative approaches to exenteration. They would like to improve diagnostic technologies and refine the criteria for which invasive cervical cancer therapies are chosen. The University of California Irvine Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis is concentrating their efforts on Laser Photoradiation Therapy of Malignant Tumors. They want to develop a Photodynamic Therapy for application in the clinical management of patients with cancer. The University of Washington Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnoses is concentrating its efforts on Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplants for HPV and cervical cancer.

They say that their long-range goal is to develop tumor-specific allogeneic adoptive T-cell immunotherapy in the context of non-myeloablative allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation for the treatment of non-hematologic malignancies. They selected the HPV virus associated with cervical cancer as a model because it constitutively expresses HPV genes E 6/E 7, which are the appropriate targets for immunotherapy. In conclusion of their statement they say the clinical and laboratory results are expected to provide a rational basis and direction for the design of subsequent trials of tumor-specific adoptive cellular immunotherapy in the context of this treatment regimen. Cervical Cancer is a complex cancer and can not be cured. However there are many treatments available to women with cancer of the cervix.

After completing all of the research I have found that all of the treatments are pretty equally effective in keeping the cancer subdued. As long as the woman keeps up with her medical treatments and checkups she will continue to live a long, mostly healthy, and normal life. The new research about Photoradiation and Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplants are just underway but could be promising techniques for the future of cervical cancer. Until then, if I had cervical cancer I would stick with the technology we already have in the world of medicine. "Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplants for HPV and cervical cancer." University of Washington Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis. National Cancer Institute.

CANCERLIT. Bell Library, Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi, TX. 05 November 2003. "Cervical Cancer: Lata Cherath." Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. Edition 1 (1999): 640. InfoTrac.

Health Reference Center. Bell Library, Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi, TX. 20 October 2003. "Cervical Cancer: The One That's Preventable." PDR Family Guide to Women's Health and Prescription Drugs, Chapter 38.

2001. InfoTrac. Health Reference Center. Bell Library, Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi, TX. 20 October 2003. "Laser Photoradiation Therapy of Malignant Tumors." University of California Irvine Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis.

National Cancer Institute. CANCERLIT. Bell Library, Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi, TX. 05 November 2003. Stedman FB, PG Rose, et al. "Innovations in the treatment of invasive cervical cancer." Indiana University School of Medicine Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

National Library of Medicine. PubMed. Bell Library, Texas A&University, Corpus Christi, TX. 05 November 2003. What You Need To Know About Cancer of the Cervix. 16 September 2002.

National Cancer Institute. CANCERLIT. Bell Library, Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi, TX. 20 October 2003..