Risk Factors, Screening and Diagnosis | Personalized Treatment | Additional Patient Support
The experienced, collaborative team of specialists at NorthShore Kellogg Cancer Center combines the most advanced scientific knowledge and technology with a comprehensive and compassionate approach to care, creating a program of personalized medicine and patient-centered care for each individual diagnosed with cervical cancer.
Drawing from the diverse experience of physicians, surgeons, nurses, researchers and a host of other highly trained healthcare professionals, the Kellogg Cancer Center team works collaboratively and is dedicated to putting patients—and families—at the center of a healthcare experience that delivers compassionate, quality care.
Cervical Cancer Screening, Diagnosis and Risk Factors
Cervical cancer is cancer of the uterine cervix, the portion of the uterus attached to the top of the vagina. In its earliest stages cervical cancer is easily treatable and curable; therefore, routine pap smears for cervical cancer screening are very important. Human papilloma virus (HPV) has been shown to be the causative agent of most cervical cancers.
The following risk factors may make a woman more prone to developing cervical cancer:
- Women who had sexual intercourse at a very young age
- Women with multiple sexual partners or women whose partners have multiple sexual partners
- Women who do not get regular pap smears who may have pre cancerous cells
- Women who are infected with the human papilloma virus (HPV)
Physical cervical cancer symptoms may include persistent vaginal discharge and abnormal vaginal bleeding. Women with cervical cancer may not experience any symptoms however, so it is important to talk to your doctor about your risk factors and how often you should have a pap smear for cervical cancer screening.
A pap smear can help identify the possibility of cervical cancer but it does not provide a definitive diagnosis. If a woman has an abnormal pap smear, she may undergo a colposcopy, which allows the physician to take a magnified look at the cervix to better determine if cervical pre-cancerous or cancerous cells are present. A biopsy of the cervix may be necessary.
If a diagnosis of cervical cancer is made, a variety of tests, which may include a cystoscopy and a colonoscopy to determine if the cancer has spread to the bladder or rectum, may be ordered. These tests, together with the results of the original tumor biopsy help your physician determine the severity or stage of the cancer, which is in part based on whether it has spread to other areas of the body.
NorthShore is the first in the nation to provide our patients and their family members with Health Heritage, a secure tool that helps individuals create a complete family health history and personalized risk reports.
Personalized Cervical Cancer Treatment
With cervical cancer, if caught very early, the pre-cancerous or cancerous cells can be removed without affecting a woman’s ability to conceive a child. However, if the disease has spread to other parts of the body, radiation therapy or the administration of chemotherapy may be necessary. Sometimes a hysterectomy, which involves the removal of the entire uterus, is necessary. In some circumstances, the ovaries and fallopian tubes may also be removed.
Every week, your multidisciplinary team meets in a multidisciplinary conference to discuss each patient’s case in detail and to design a personalized treatment plan. For cervical cancer, your team may include your medical oncologist, surgeon, radiation oncologist, geneticist, pathologist, nutritionist, pharmacist, interventional radiologist, social worker and researchers, all focused on you. This "meeting of the minds" provides critical input, resulting in an individualized cervical cancer treatment and care plan outlining the best course of action for each patient.
Patients are at the center of this multidisciplinary team, and Kellogg staff arrange for them to be seen in a timely fashion by their lead physician, who will discuss their case with a multidisciplinary team, not only for their convenience but to provide a consensus on their course of treatment. Our use of one of the most advanced Electronic Medical Record (EMR) systems in the country enhances our open communication and promotes collaboration in our patient care.
Additional Patient Support
Kellogg Cancer Center’s unique services and resources assist patients and family members with a variety of challenges they may face from diagnosis, treatment and beyond. A wide array of support services are available to patients that include our integrative medicine services, financial advocacy and survivorship, to name a few.
For More Information
For more information on cervical cancer symptoms, screening and treatment or to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, please call 847.570.2112.