Treating Cervical Cancer with Radiation Therapy

Over 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the United States every year.  That is 33 women a day. 

Unlike some other cancers, cervical cancer is not considered to be passed down through family genes.  It is caused by certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV).  When a female is infected with these types of HPV, and the virus doesn’t go away on its own, abnormal cells can develop in the lining of the cervix.  If these abnormal cells are not found early through routine cervical cancer screening and treated, cervical cancer can develop. 

According to the National Cervical Cancer Coalition (NCCC), cervical cancer is the second most common type of cancer for women worldwide, but because it develops over time, it is also one of the most preventable types of cancer. 

The American Social Health Association (ASHA) and the NCCC have named January Cervical Health Awareness Month to encourage women across the country to get screened for cervical cancer and receive the HPV vaccine if they’re eligible. 

At the Radiation Oncology Services at Charleston Area Medical Center, we treat gynecologic cancers, including cervical cancer, painlessly and non-invasively with radiation therapy.  When cervical cancer is treated with radiation, several types are commonly used.  We use external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) to deliver high-energy X-rays to cancer cells, damaging their ability to multiply.  Treatments only take about 15 to 30 minutes and side effects are usually minimal.  Several factors determine candidacy for radiation therapy treatment including the stage of the cancer, potential side effects, age, and overall health.  

As we begin the start of a new year, many of us will make resolutions to get fit and live a healthier lifestyle.  As we buy our fruits and vegetables and set our workout goals, let’s not forget about our yearly preventative screenings.  Because cervical cancer is a preventable type of cancer, it is very important for women to get screened for cervical cancer (the test will happen during their yearly Pap tests).  

If you have any questions about cervical cancer, please visit the National Cervical Cancer Coalition.  For more information about the conditions treated at the Radiation Oncology Services at Charleston Area Medical Center, please click here