​Overview of the Cervical Cancer Program​

The Cervical Cancer Program at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi provides care for women during what can be a very difficult time. Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer among women in the UAE and the fourth leading cause of death. It is a highly preventable cancer, with early detection through routine pap smears and vaccination against the HPV virus allowing for successful treatment and prevention in most cases.

Our female-only, multidisciplinary team is led by one of the region’s only female Gynecologic Oncologists. We offer a truly collaborative approach to cancer care, using the very latest diagnostic and treatment techniques, supported by highly specialized and compassionate care; a very important differentiating factor when treating cervical cancer and an essential part of improving outcomes for patients. 

Dr. Stephanie Ricci, Gynecologic Oncologist, heads up our Cervical Cancer Program. She is a specialist in the treatment of female cancers, and one of only a handful in the UAE. Treatment for cervical cancer by a gynecologic oncologist is extremely important as they have the dedicated training, specialist experience and technical skills needed to diagnose and treat the cancer as effectively as possible. Dr. Ricci qualified in the US and spent 6 years at Cleveland Clinic in the US. She has dedicated her career to helping women affected by cancer.

What is cervical cancer?

The cervix is the lower part of the uterus, or womb, that connects to the vagina. Cervical cancer starts on the surface of the cervix, and there are two types: squamous cell carcinomas, which account for around 80% to 90% of all cervical cancers, and adenocarcinoma, which account for around 10% to 20%. ​

Symptoms of cervical cancer

The first symptoms of cervical cancer might include: 

  • Discharge that is watery or has blood in it, and may smell bad
  • Unusual bleeding, including between menstrual periods or after exercise 
  • Longer or heavier menstrual periods 

When the cancer has spread to other tissues, symptoms might include:

  • Pain when urinating
  • Bleeding or pain from the rectum
  • Feeling tired, losing your appetite or weight loss
  • Generally feeling unwell
  • Swelling in the legs or a dull back ache 

If you experience any of these symptoms for more than 2 weeks, always see your doctor. 

Risk factors for cervical cancer

Many cases of cervical cancer are linked to known risk factors. Some of these can be avoided, while others cannot. Risk factors include:

  • Irregular screening: If regular pap or smear tests are not taken, there is an increased risk of cervical cancer.
  • HPV Infection: Infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV) is a risk factor for cervical cancer, but only a very small number of women with HPV will go on to develop cervical cancer.
  • Smoking: Smoking is linked to an increased risk of cervical cancer.

Preventing cervical cancer 

Having regular pap smears and gynecological examinations is the most important thing you can do to prevent cervical cancer. In the UAE, it is recommended that women aged 25 to 29 have a pap smear every 3 years, and women aged 30 to 65 have a pap smear every 5 years as well as an HPV test. Testing should be more frequent if there is a history of abnormal pap smears or if HPV is present. 

Cervical cancer vaccination 

A vaccination is approved for use in females aged 13 to 45, to offer protection against cervical cancer, by building immunity against HPV.

What we treat?

The Cervical Cancer Program at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi treats women diagnosed with cervical cancer as well as precancerous conditions of the cervix, including cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN). 

At the Cervical Cancer Program at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, our team of female specialists are highly trained in a variety of diagnostic techniques and state-of-the-art therapeutic treatments for cervical cancers and precancerous conditions. 

Diagnosis of cervical cancer 

We offer a range of techniques that allow for the quick and accurate diagnosis of conditions that are affect the cervix. A pelvic examination and Pap smear together can detect most cases of cervical cancer, but to confirm a diagnosis, further examination and tissue samples will be required. Diagnostic tests might include:

  • Colposcopy
  • Dilation and curettage (D&C)
  • Loop electrical excision procedure (LEEP)
  • Biopsy
  • Laparoscopy
  • Blood tests
  • Ultrasound
  • CT scan or MRI

Treatment of cervical cancer 

We offer a range of advanced and minimally invasive treatments for cervical cancer, all of which are overseen by our gynecologic oncologist. The treatment given will depend on how advanced the cancer is, the patient’s age, and its exact location. Treatment will usually include radiation therapy, surgery or chemotherapy, or a combination of these. 

  • Radiation therapy: A high dose of radiation is delivered to kill cancer cells. A device which delivers radioactive pellets can be placed internally, near the cancer, or an external device can send radiation beams to the targeted area. 
  • Chemotherapy: There are a number of drugs that can be used on their own or in combination to kill cancer cells. Sometimes, chemotherapy and radiation are both given. ​
  • Surgery: There are a number of types of surgery used to treat cervical cancer, including: 
    • Laser surgery: A laser burns off cells or can remove a piece of tissue for doctors to study.
    • Cone biopsy: A cone-shaped piece of tissue is taken from the cervix.
    • Simple hysterectomy​: The uterus is removed but not the tissue next to the uterus, the lymph nodes, or the vagina. 
    • Radical hysterectomy: The uterus, a small part of the vagina, pelvic lymph nodes and the surrounding tissue are removed.

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