How are abnormal cervical cells and pre-cancers treated?
Abnormal cervical cells can be divided into low-grade and high-grade abnormalities.
Most low-grade abormalities will clear without causing any lasting effects.
According to current Australian guidelines, if a woman's Pap smear shows low-grade
changes, her healthcare professional may advise a repeat smear sooner than 2 years
(usually after 6 or 12 months). Sometimes colposcopy (an examination of the cervix
with a special microscope) may also be offered, either straight away or after the
Pap test, if it shows that the low grade changes are still present.
Occasionally, high-grade changes will progress to cervical cancer if left untreated.
This usually takes a number of years, although in rare cases it can happen sooner.
If a woman's Pap smear shows high-grade, precancerous changes she will be referred
for a colposcopy. In many cases, during the colposcopy a small piece of tissue (a
biopsy) will be taken from the cervix. If the biopsy confirms the woman has a high-grade cervical
abnormality (referred to as CIN 2 or 3), she will most likely be
offered surgery to remove the affected part of the cervix. This can be done using
a variety of ways including, amongst other techniques, surgical excision and laser
removal. This usually requires a day stay in hospital.
How is cervical cancer treated?
If, after colposcopy and biopsy, a woman is found to have cancer of the cervix,
rather than a pre-cancer, she will usually be referred to a specialist cancer gynaecologist
for further assessment and management. The cancer may be staged according to the
level of invasiveness. Usually, treatment for cervical cancer involves surgery to
remove the cancer (including local excision, hysterectomy) and/or radiotherapy with
or without additional chemotherapy depending on the size or stage of the tumour.
If detected early, cervical cancer can be treated, but as with any medical condition
prevention or early detection is always best if it is available.
How are vaginal, vulval and anal cancers treated?
For patients diagnosed with vaginal, vulval and anal cancers, the main treatment
options are surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
How are genital warts treated?
Genital warts can disappear on their own without treatment. However, there is no
way to tell if they will grow larger or disappear. Depending on the size and location
of the genital warts, there are several treatment options. A healthcare professional
may choose to apply a special cream or solution to the warts. Some genital warts
can be removed by freezing, burning or using laser treatment.
However, no matter the treatment, there's a chance that genital warts will reappear
after treatment, since the types of HPV that cause them may still be present.
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