Female reproductive organs cancers are currently one of the most frequent types of cancer in female population. Nearly half of all tumours in women is located in that area. Tumours can occur in any part of the female reproductive system—the vulva, vagina, cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries, as well as, breasts. A considerable percentage of tumours are cancerous – in these, the prognosis and treating outcomes depend on the stage of development and early detection. That is why, regular screening is vital.
In Top Medical Clinic, we offer the following screening procedures for early diagnosis and prophylaxis of female genital cancer:
Breast scan is an important procedure to identify changes in breast glands. The scan should be performed regularly, preferably every 1-2 years, by young women (18-20) up to about 50 years of age. After 50, it is recommended to undergo mammography.
Breast scan is performed with an ultrasound equipment which uses sound waves to produce pictures of the internal structures of the breast. It can be done on any day of then menstrual cycle but it is recommended to have it between the 1st and tenth day of the cycle.
What are the indications for the procedure?
- patients at high risk of breast cancer (screening 1-2 times a year)
- constant pain in one part of breast or in armpit
- a lump or thickening
- bleeding or discharge from the nipple
- nipple becoming drawn or changing direction
- a follow-up visit to check the breast after diagnosing non-cancerous tumour
- the history of breast tumours in the family
- the use of hormonal contraception
How is the scan performed?
The procedure lasts 15 minutes and is completely pain-free and safe. The patient is first asked to undress from the waist up and to lie on the back on the examination couch with arms raised above her head. Then, the doctor applies a warm water-based gel to the area to be examined. The gel helps the transducer make secure contact with the body and eliminate air pockets between the transducer and the skin that can block the sound waves from passing into the body. The doctor moves the transducer over the breast to examine the breast (glandular tissue, ducts and lymph nodes) and discover any abnormalities if present.
CERVICAL SCREENING TEST (SMEAR TEST)
Cervical Screening test is a simple diagnostic procedure used to prevent, as well as, detect precancerous/abnormal changes to the cells in the cervix or invasive cervical cancer. The test is vital because early detection of alarming changes significantly raises the chances of full recovery.
What are the indications for the test?
Cervical Screening test should be performed in specific time frames – especially between 25 and 69 years of age. In that time span, each woman should have the test at least every three years. In case of an abnormal test result, the doctor decides how often the test should be repeated. It is recommended to have the first cervical screening test within 3 years after becoming sexually active.
How to prepare for the screening?
It is recommended to come for the test in the first phase of menstrual cycle, no sooner than 2 days after the monthly period.
In case of patients using vaginal creams, suppositories or any other types of vaginal medicines, they have to stop applying them two days before the test.
If the patient has a vaginal infection, it has to be first treated after a consultation with a gynaecologist. The screening has to be postponed for at least a week after the treatment has finished.
How is the screening performed?
The test is performed on a gynaecological couch and takes a few minutes. After introducing a speculum into the vagina, the doctor gently scrapes some cells from the surface of the cervix with a small plastic brush. To make sure the results are reliable, two samples are always taken: from the skin-like cells on the outer, vaginal surface of the cervix and from the more glandular cells that line the inner canal that leads to the cavity of the womb. Both samples are immediately ‘fixed’ onto the microscope slide with a special preservative.
Next, the obtained samples are sent to the laboratory, where they are analysed by a qualified specialist.
Colposcopy is a simple procedure, which enables a detailed examination of the cervix. It involves observing the surface of the cervix, the outer part of its canal, vagina, and vulva with the use of a special microscope (colposcope) to see the changes at high magnification with good lighting. Colposcopy enables to see changes that can’t be noticed during a conventional examination, such as pre-cancerous and early-cancerous changes, as well as, cervix cancer. According to statistics, when combined with cervical screening test, the procedure gives 100% diagnostic accuracy. Colposcopy is used to remove a small sample of tissue for a closer histopathological examination in the laboratory (biopsy), to determine what treatments are needed to be performed on the cervix, vagina and vulva, as well as, to assess if the whole of abnormal tissue has been removed during the treatment. Colposcopy is painless and non-invasive, if required, it can be performed several times.
In Top Medical Clinic, colposcopy is performed by Prof. Pawel Knapp, who’s been carrying out training courses of colposcopy for other gynaecologists and is an undisputed expert in the field. Our clinic has the top-class German colposcopy equipment by Leisegang, and the possibility to perform complex microsurgery procedures, both laser and those saving the cervix in pre-cancerous conditions.
What are the indications for the procedure?
It is always the doctor who decides if colposcopy is needed. It may be necessary in the following situations:
- identification of places with a high risk of dysplasia (abnormal tissue), or cancers
- obtaining a sample for histopathological examination in order to make a diagnosis
- assessment of abnormal tissue in the cervix canal that suggest dysplasia
- verification of abnormal cervical screening test results
- identification of HPV infection
- check-up of abnormal changes from the previous colposcopy
The patient should bring to the appointment the results of the last cervical screening test.
How is the procedure performed?
The procedure is performed on gynaecological examination table and consists of a several phases. At the beginning, the doctor views the cervix using a speculum (the instrument inserted into the vagina that is also used during the cervical screening test). Then the cervix is examined with the colposcope at low magnification (the instrument is not inserted into the vagina). The doctor will put a number of different solutions on the cervix and look for changes that indicate the presence of abnormal cells. If, during the procedure, the doctor notices some abnormal tissue, samples might be taken for histopathological examination in the laboratory. The whole procedure lasts for around 15 minutes and is a vital one, without which patients with abnormal cervical screening test results can’t be treated. Only doctors with special qualifications can perform colposcopy.
Cancer is not usually inherited, but some types – in case of women, mainly breast, ovarian, large intestine, uterine cancer – can be strongly influenced by genes and can run in families. The purpose of genetic testing is to analyse patient’s genetic material (DNA) in order to confirm or exclude the presence of cancer-predisposing mutation. To carry out the analysis, it is necessary to achieve a blood or saliva sample from the patient. The sample is then sent to a laboratory where it undergoes a highly specialised analysis of changes in the chromosomes. Even if a cancer-predisposing mutation is found, it doesn’t mean that cancer will develop. However, if the illness develops, it can be early detected via frequent screening procedures and the chances of full recovery are much higher.
In Top Medical Clinic, we offer genetic testing of the following organs:
- fallopian tubes
- digestive tract
We also offer measuring of the most of blood markers:
- CA-125, CA 19-9: antigens marked in ovarian cancer
- CA-15-3: antigen marked in breast cancer
- CEA: the high level of this antigen is very often discovered in patients suffering from colorectal cancer, so it is used as one of elements of illness monitoring. CEA is also a universal marker for metastases (regardless of the organ)
- Beta HCG: marked in ovarian cancer and in molar pregnancy