Cervical Cancer

Week 28: Cervical cancer

1. From what age and how frequently should women be screened for cervical cancer in the UK?

From 25 to 64 years old.

Between 25 and 49 years screening is 3 yearly and between 50 and 64 years screening in 5 yearly.

If 80 per cent of the population can be screened, the evidence suggests that a reduction in death rates of around 95 per cent is possible. In 2008/9 the coverage of eligible women was 78.9 per cent in the UK.

2. If diagnosed early the disease is still curable – how is it cured?

Yes. By surgical removal by LETZ (loop excision of the transformation zone) or by radiotherapy, using brachytherapy, plus or minus external beam radiotherapy. This NHS website tells more.

3. If the disease is advanced, what treatment is possible?

Palliative chemotherapy, using cisplatin and topotecan or paclitaxel can reduce tumour mass and hence symptoms.
Palliative radiotherapy can alleviate bleeding and pain.
Nephrostomy insertion may be necessary if ureters are obstructed, and analgaesia and general supportive care help to maintain quality of life.

The SIGN Guidelines summarise treatment options in advance disease.

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