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Anon. asked...

Cervix cancer impact on pregnancy

Tags: pregnancy

Hello, I would like to know how having cervix cancer or a virus can affect pregnancy. Can you please as my question as quick as possible. Thanks.

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The answer

Many thanks for your question.

Women who are aged 25 and above, are invited to have cervical screening by the NHS, to check the cervical cells for changes which can lead to cervical cancer.

These tests are also able to detect cell changes which occur as a result of the Human Papilloma Virus(HPV).

The HPV strains that are found in these tests are often sexually transmitted and are a form of the wart virus.

If your cervical smear has indicated that there are changes to the cervical cells then, further investigations will need to be done to ascertain the cause and severity of the cell changes.

The screening which will be offered to you will initially be a colposcopy.

A colposcopy involves an intimate examination where the cervix is looked at, with the aid of a microscope and a dye or acetic acid applied to the cervix which then highlights the presence of any damaged cells.

If there are areas highlighted these will then be biopsied to determine the type of changes and to examine for the presence of HPV and cancer.

The presence of HPV does not necessarily indicate that you have cervical cancer but that there are precursory changes which need monitoring.

Once the biopsy results are back then a treatment plan will be arranged for you- this may include freezing treatment or removal of the affected cells by means of laser, diathermy or surgery.

In relation to pregnancy the HPV itself does not affect your ability to conceive.

Treatment to the cervix however may cause some difficulties conceiving due to the alteration to cervical mucus production or carrying the pregnancy to full term as a result of the cervix being weakened.

If you are considering becoming pregnant it is essential that the maternity and obstetric staff are aware of any surgical procedures carried out to the cervix so that screening of the pregnancy development and the cervical canal length can be monitored for any changes.

The HPV can be treated but the virus remains in the body for life. Treatment of warts often includes the use of cryotherapy (freezing) or the application of ointments or acid to the warts.

HPV is unlikely to be transferred to the baby unless there is presence of active warts around the cervical canal, vagina and labial areas at time of delivery. Mode of delivery of the baby will need to be considered by the obstetric team if there are active warts present.

If cancer has been detected then treatment will be considered such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Depending on the treatment needed then fertility and pregnancies can be affected. It will be necessary for you to discuss the implications with your doctors.

We would suggest that you seek an appointment with your GP or Doctors at a family planning clinic or sexual health clinic to discuss the tests ,treatments and implications re pregnancy further.

Some useful websites for further information include:

NHS - cervical screening tests

NHS - cancer of the cervix 

We hope the above information is helpful and allays some of your fears but again I would encourage you to talk to your GP as soon as possible.

Answered by the Health at Hand nurses  

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