Herbal Medicines for Cervical Cancer

By Robin Brain


Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers affecting women. Women between the ages of 30 and 55 have the highest incidence of cervical cancer. Women who have had sexually transmitted disease, and those who have had many pregnancies beginning at a young age, are at greater risk. If you smoke, quit. Cigarette smoking is a suspected risk factor for cervical cancer. Getting an annual pelvic examination and Pap test is the only way to screen for cervical cancer. A Pap test can detect malignant cells before symptoms are present.

Fortunately, cervical cancer is slow to develop. If diagnosed at an early stage, when the cancer is still confined to the outermost layers of cervical tissue, cervical cancer has a cure rate of almost 100 percent. Even in more advanced cases, when the cancer spreads deeper into the cervical wall, the chances of recovery are good. On the other hand, if the cancer is allowed to spread to other organs, the prognosis is not as good.

Signs and Symptoms

Cervical cancer in its early stages usually does not produce symptoms. Later, the most common symptoms are:

Bleeding from the vagina after intercourse, between periods, or after menopause

Bloody vaginal discharge

Conventional Medical Treatment

If you notice any type of unexplained bleeding or discharge, see your gynecologist immediately, who performs a pelvic examination and Pap smear. If the Pap smear reveals abnormalities, your doctor examines your cervix closely (using a device called a colposcope) and takes a tissue sample to check for malignant cells. If cancer is confirmed, your doctor may take X-rays to determine if the cancer has spread to any of the surrounding organs.

Treatment for cervical cancer depends on what stage it is in. If it is caught early, laser surgery, freezing, or cauterization may be used to remove the malignant cells from the outer layer of tissue. If the cancer has advanced into the cervical wall, radiation may be performed. (See "Conventional Medical Treatment" in the "Bladder Cancer" entry for more information on radiation therapy.) Your doctor also may recommend a hysterectomy, an operation in which the cervix and uterus are removed.

Complementary and Alternative Treatments

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Acupuncture Acupuncture may be used as an adjunct treatment during the early stages of cervical cancer to boost the body's immune system and improve the flow of chi to diseased cells.

Acupressure Acupressure may be useful in alleviating the pain of cervical cancer and the stomach upset caused by conventional treatments.

Chinese Herbal Therapy Garlic has been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cell while promoting the production of healthy cells, which may account for this herb's popularity in the prevention and treatment of all types of cancer, including cervical. Ginseng also is known for its immunity-boosting, anti-cancer properties.[source]


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