Cervical cancer is caused by a virus called HPV or "human papillomavirus", which is transmitted during sexual intercourse. Although HPV is very common, it only causes cancer in a minority of cases. However, the risk is not to be neglected and vaccination against HPV is therefore of great importance. As this virus is transmitted during sexual intercourse, it is crucial to vaccinate young girls as early as possible, i.e. before their first sexual intercourse. At present, this vaccine is reimbursed (public cost of 130 €, if intervention of the National Institute for Health and Disability Insurance [NIHDI]: 10 € per injection) between 12 and 18 years old included. The vaccination requires three injections. This vaccine could prevent 70% of cervical cancer cases. The lack of 100% protection means that screening should be performed or continued even after vaccination. For young patients aged 16 and over, the attitude regarding vaccination should be discussed with your doctor (family doctor, pediatrician, gynecologist, etc.).
Cervical cancer causes few symptoms, which is why regular follow-up is important. It is diagnosed quite easily through a Pap smear and a gynecological examination.
There is an effective screening test to detect precancerous lesions: the Pap smear.
A Pap smear consists of taking superficial cells from the cervix during a gynecological examination. These cells are then examined under a microscope. Cervical cancer is a slow-growing disease, so regular gynecological follow-up can detect it at a very early stage.
Pap smear screening begins at the age of 25 years and is repeated every three years.
Cervical cancer is treated by hysterectomy, which is usually more extensive than hysterectomy for endometrial cancer because it is often accompanied by removal of surrounding lymph nodes. In some cases, the surgical procedure is completed by radiation therapy combined with chemotherapy. Precise identification of tumor margins also allows for better targeting of possible additional radiation therapy. Some women wish to preserve their fertility. A partial removal of the uterus, when possible, aims to meet this wish. The preoperative assessment, which is largely based on endoscopy, makes it possible to determine the extent of the cancer and to decide whether it is possible to keep part of the uterus in place without removing the entire organ.
For any further information, or if you would like to make an appointment, please contact the Oncology Care Coordinator at + 32 2 764 94 08.