Special Feature: A first look at the status of Cervical Cancer in Ontario
What is cervical cancer?
- Cervical cancer starts in the cells of the cervix.
- The cervix is the lower part of the uterus or womb, and is part of the female reproductive system.
Cervical cancer in Ontario
- Cervical cancer is the 13th most common cancer and 3rd most common gynecologic cancer.
- Cervical cancer is more common in younger women.
- Incidence rates are highest in women aged 35-39.
From Prevention to Diagnosis
- Cervical cancer can be prevented
- Infection with the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the main cause of cervical cancer.
- The HPV vaccine prevents infection of HPV strains that cause the majority of cervical cancers.
- The HPV vaccine is expected to decrease cervical cancer incidence rates in the future.
- Ontario has an organized cervical cancer screening program.
- Screening with the Pap test detects precancerous conditions. When these conditions are treated, progression to cervical cancer is prevented.
- Organized screening programs are largely responsible for the decrease in incidence and mortality rates of cervical cancer in recent decades.
- About half of diagnoses of cervical cancer occur when the cancer is still at an early stage (stage I). Generally, early diagnosis improves outcomes.
- In spite of our progress that has been made in prevention and early detection, many women are still being diagnosed with cervical cancer.
- Greater attention must be paid to increasing the effectiveness of screening by encouraging more women to participate, improving technologies and continuing HPV immunization in order to continue to reduce the number of the women who are diagnosed at later stage.
- Surgery, radiation and chemotherapy are used alone or in combination to treat cervical cancer.
- Prior to treatment, women should have a discussion with their physician about impact on fertility and fertility-sparing options where appropriate.
- Psychosexual issues are among the most significant symptoms for women dealing with cervical cancer.
- Follow-up Care
- Women should be appropriately monitored in follow-up visits to manage symptoms, late effects of treatment and any possible recurrence.
Advanced and Metastatic Disease
- Advanced and Metastatic Disease
- Women with incurable cervical cancer may be offered chemotherapy and radiotherapy along with best supportive palliative care.
- End-of-Life Care
- Patients at the end-of-life continue to be seen by their healthcare team in order to address their symptoms, to optimize their quality of life and to receive support for themselves and their families.
- Women are still dying of cervical cancer.