In the aftermath of the death of Jade Goody in 2009, the number of women who underwent screening for cervical cancer by way of smear tests increased significantly.
However, the effect of this high profile case now seems to be wearing off with the latest figures suggesting the number of women undergoing this screening is in decline.
As with other forms of cancer, the stage at which cervical cancer is diagnosed has a significant impact on the treatment options available as well as the long term prognosis. The staging, given as a number from one to four, indicates how far the cancer has spread.
According to the NHS, the chances of living for at least five years after being diagnosed with cervical cancer are as follows:
Stage 1 – 80-99%
Stage 2 – 60-90%
Stage 3 – 30-50%
Stage 4 – 20%
Regular screening, by way of a smear test, can in some cases identify biological changes that could turn cancerous before cancer develops. This allows for the removal of abnormal cells by way of a minimally invasive procedure and approximately 75% of cervical cancers can be prevented by cervical screening.
As the disease progresses the treatment options available become more extreme. If cancer develops and is identified at a very early stage it may be possible to treat this with radiotherapy alone or with radiotherapy in combination with surgery that can allow for the woman to maintain her ability to have children.
However, when the disease progresses to a slightly more advanced stage a hysterectomy may be required which would involve the removal of the cervix, womb and possibly the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
Chemotherapy is often given either in combination with radiotherapy in an attempt to cure cervical cancer, or as a sole treatment to slow the progression and relive symptoms of an advanced cancer. Chemotherapy can have a number of side effects, including:
After treatment of cervical cancer is complete the patient should undergo follow-up testing to look for signs of the cancer returning. These appointments are usually recommended every four months after treatment has been completed for the first two years and then every six to 12 months for a further three years.
If cervical cancer returns it may be necessary for a patient to undergo a pelvic exenteration, a radical procedure during which the cancer is removed, plus the bladder, rectum, vagina and the lower section of the bowel.
Cervical cancer can lead to a number of complications, either resulting from the disease itself, or from the treatment carried out and in the most severe cases can result in death.
The earlier the diagnosis is made the more positive the outcome is likely to be and therefore it is highly recommended that women always attend smear tests when invited.
However, in spite of the screening process cancers can be missed and any delays or failures on the part of medical professionals to diagnose cancer can result in the progression of the disease to a more advanced stage. The consequences of this progression can be devastating.
Our Solicitors in the Medical Negligence Team at Wolferstans have represented a wealth of clients who have found themselves in the unfortunate position of suffering complications or adverse outcomes directly as a result of negligent treatment.
If you or a member of your family have suffered an injury as a result of medical negligence and you would like to receive some free initial legal advice, without obligation, please contact Jodie O’Connor on 01752 292360 or email her at jo’firstname.lastname@example.org