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What is Cervical Cancer?

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Cervical cancer is a cancer that grows in the cells that line the walls of the cervix.

The cervix is the lower part of the uterus or womb. It is about 2-3cm long, but this can change in shape during pregnancy. It is used in menstruation and sexual reproduction.

Statistics

  • Cervical cancer occurs in women from the age of 30 to 45.
  • It is the 14th most common cancer.
  • There are 3100 cases per year with 900 deaths. This is only 1% of cancer deaths in females.
  • 2/3 of women diagnosed will survive 10 years or more.
  • 99.8% of this cancer can be prevented.

Cervical Cancer

What Are The Symptoms?

There are no obvious symptoms of cervical cancer in the early stages. This means that often when the cancer has been diagnosed it is too late. Symptoms can include:

  • Bleeding during or after sex.
  • Bleeding between periods.
  • Bleeding even after the menopause.
  • Pain during sex.
  • Pain in the pelvis or lower back.
  • Change in vaginal discharge.

If the cancer is in the latter stages then the symptoms may change and become more pronounced:

  • Pelvic and back pain.
  • Constipation.
  • Back pain around the kidney area.
  • Constipation.
  • Vaginal bleeding.
  • Swelling of the legs.
  • Blood in the urine.
  • Incontinence.
  • Increased urination and defecation.

Cause

The cause of cervical cancer can be due to HPV or the Human Papilloma Virus.

It is a common virus with over 100 different types. Most women will be infected at some point in their life and it is spread by sexual intercourse. Each strain will give a different symptom. Some show no symptoms, some cause genital warts and 15 types cause an increased risk for cervical cancer.

The virus causes the cells to stop functioning properly and they start to divide uncontrollably. This can take 10-20 years.

Other factors can include:

  • Smoking – Twice as likely to get cervical cancer.
  • Immunosuppression.
  • Oral contraceptives – More than 5 years of taking them.
  • Having 5 or more children.

Screening

Cervical screening is called the ‘Pap’ test or cervical smear. Depending on your age you will be invited in to have a test every few years. The test involves a vaginal examination where cells are scraped from the cervix using a cotton bud type instrument.

This is then sent for testing to ascertain whether there are any abnormal cells present. This type of testing is not always accurate but give an indication that further tests are required.

There is a cervical cancer vaccination given to teenagers at school at a similar time to the MMR vaccine, consisting of two injections – the main vaccination followed by a booster shortly after. It’s not a cure or full prevention vaccination, but it goes some way in trying to protect young girls in puberty from developing abnormal cells in later life.

Diagnosis

If there is a concern that a patient might have cervical cancer, they would be sent to a gynaecologist for further tests. Such tests can include:

  • Colposcopy – This will identify any changes in the cervix. The vagina is opened using a speculum and a microscope with a light is inserted. A biopsy may also be carried out and sample of the cells is then sent for testing.
  • Pelvic examination – Checks the womb, vagina, rectum and also to see if other cancers are present.
  • CT and MRI scans – They show cancerous tumours.
  • X-Ray – Check if the cancer has spread to the lungs.
  • PET scan – Check if treatment is working.

The doctors will provide a grading of the cancer and treatment can be provided accordingly.

Type and Stages of Cancer

There are two forms of cervical cancer:

  • Squamous cell cancer – This amounts for 70-80% of all cervical cancers.
  • Adenocarcinoma.

Grades of cervical cancer:

  • Stage One Cancer – the lowest grade of cervical cancer and is generally contained within the neck of the womb or the cervix.
  • Stage Two Cancer. This is when the cancer has spread outside of the womb into the surrounding tissue.
  • Stage Three Cancer is where the cancer has spread into the pelvic area.
  • Stage Four Cancer is the most serious and indicates that the cancer has spread to other organs – usually the bladder and rectum. However, it can spread to such organs as the lungs and liver.

 

Treatment

  • Treatment will depend on the staging and how far it has spread.
  • Cervical cancer can be treated if detected early enough.
  • Early cancer or stage one will usually be treated by way of removal of the abnormal cells

Cancer in the cervix – The cervix may need to be removed or a full hysterectomy is needed. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy may be given to stop the spread of the cells.

Cancer that has spread to multiple areas of the body – If the cancer has spread to other organs then a cure may not be possible and palliative care may be the only option.

Surgery is usually very routing in the early stages. However, it may be more complicated if in the latter stages. These include:

  • Trachelectomy – The womb is left intact, but the cervix and upper part of the vagina are remove.
  • Hysterectomy – The cervix and womb are removed, and in some cases the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
  • Pelvic Exenteration – This removes the cervix, vagina, womb, ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder and rectum.

Long Term Complications Prognosis

There are a lot of issues surrounding the treatment of cervical cancer due to the fact it can have life-changing effects on the patient. Surgery can result in infertility or make it harder to have children. Eggs can be frozen prior to the treatment to allow surrogacy if needs be.

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy can also have long term effect and may lead to some life-changing effects, such as:

  • Triggering of the menopause.
  • Narrowing of the vagina.
  • Infertility.
  • Incontinence.
  • Kidney damage.

Courtroom

 

How Do I Make a Claim?

If you feel that you have suffered as a result of treatment provided by a medical professional, you could be entitled to compensation. Our team at Oakwood Solicitors will be able to give you free advice on the prospects of your case and whether you would be eligible to make a claim.

You have three years from the negligent act occurring or from the date you became aware that negligence has occurred to bring about a claim.

Who Can Bring About A Claim?

The patient who has been affected may be able to bring about a claim. However, it can also sadly be the case that the patient has passed away as a result of the disease. In such instances, the executor of the estate or the next of kin/dependents may be able to bring about a claim.

Our specialist team will be able to discuss whether you have a right to bring about a claim, so if you or a loved one has been affected do not hesitate to contact us.

How Long Will My Case Take To Run?

Given the complexities involved in pursuing Clinical Negligence claims, they can often take 18-24 months to conclude and longer if Court proceedings have to be issued. Our investigations start by obtaining all relevant records and protocols before approaching independent medical experts for their opinion.

We will provide you with regular updates on the progress of your case to ensure that you are kept up to speed.

How Much Is My Claim Worth?

It is often difficult to value Clinical Negligence claims at their outset, given the complexities involved. However, we will pursue two forms of compensation for you:

  • General damages – An award of money for the pain and suffering you have endured as a result of the negligence.
  • Special damages – An award of money for all of your out-of-pocket expenses, such as travel, medication costs, loss of earnings, and treatment costs both past and future. This list is not exhaustive and is very case specific.

Why Use Oakwood Solicitors To Make Your Clinical Negligence Case?

We have a dedicated team of solicitors and paralegals who have many years’ experience between them in running cases of this nature. They are highly trained to deal with all aspects of clinical negligence.

We want to ensure that clients are not overwhelmed by legal jargon, medical terms that they don’t understand and aim to allow the claims procedure to be as transparent as possible.

Ask our team about our No-Win, No-Fee agreement.

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How is My Case Funded?

The majority of Clinical Negligence cases are funded by a Conditional Fee Agreement, more commonly known as a ‘no-win, no-fee’ agreement. This means that there will be nothing to pay up front and nothing to pay if the claim has been lost. If you are successful in your claim, a deduction of 25% of damages will be taken to cover the success fee and the shortfall in legal fees.

It may also be the case that an After The Event (ATE) insurance policy will be obtained to cover the costs of expensive medical reports and investigations.

If an ATE insurance policy has to be obtained, the cost of the same will be discussed with you at the appropriate point. The cost of the ATE insurance policy is again taken from your damages and only payable if you are successful with your claim.

Charities/Useful Websites

Cancer Research UK

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust

Macmillan Cancer Support

WHAT TO DO NEXT

If you have been affected by misdiagnosis or late diagnosis of cervical cancer, get in touch today for a free initial consultation. Choose one of the methods on the right-hand side of this page, or call us on 0113 200 9787 to find out how we can help you.

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Carol Cook

Head of Department - Medical Negligence

0113 200 9780

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