In 2021, the American Cancer Society estimated 14,480 new cases of cervical cancer, which ranked 20th among all cancer types. That was well below the estimated 284,200 newly diagnosed cases of breast cancer. Although cervical cancer is far down the list, any case above zero is one too many.
January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month and Cervical Health Awareness Month, an opportunity to focus on a cancer that does not draw as much attention. Cervical cancer occurs within the cells of the cervix, the lower portion of the uterus that connects to the vagina.
The physicians at Advocate Radiation Oncology specialize in the treatment of breast, prostate, lung, brain, rectal, liver and bone cancer, head and neck, as well as cervical cancer. Our goal in treating patients with cervical cancer, like with all other cancers, is to minimize the impact of the disease on daily life while providing state of the art, compassionate, and personalized care.
There are three keys to a successful treatment and recovery from cervical cancer:
Early Diagnosis of Cervical Cancer
Screening tests can help detect cervical cancer and precancerous cells that may one day develop into cervical cancer. It is recommended that screening starts as early as 21 years.
Nearly all cases of cervical cancer are caused by human papillomavirus, or HPV, infections. Vaccines can prevent the majority of cases, but regular Pap smears and HPV tests can detect the disease in its precancerous stage. Because cervical cancer is slow to develop in comparison to other types of cancers, regular testing is that much more important.
Generally, women experience few noticeable symptoms in the early stages. However, later symptoms can include vaginal bleeding and discharge, and pelvic pain.
Advocate’s nine board-certified physicians trained at some of the world’s leading institutions, including Yale, Michigan, Harvard, Duke, Vanderbilt, and the Mayo Clinic. They have decades of clinical experience and their research has been published worldwide, and each has a passion for advancing cancer care in Southwest Florida and beyond.
Our doctors tailor each patient’s specific clinical situation according to the most current scientific research and according to the latest national cancer care guidelines. They work closely with other cancer specialists and maintain frequent communication with the primary physician.
Treatment for cervical cancer may include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or a combination of three, according to the stage.
Radiation therapy uses high-powered energy beams, such as X-rays or protons, to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy can be given externally, internally, or both.
Advocate Radiation Oncology invests in the best cancer-fighting equipment on the market. Patients enjoy access to Varian’s Halcyon, Identify and TrueBeam systems, which are incredibly precise in destroying tumors and cancer cells without damaging surrounding tissue. That level of precision – within a millimeter – reduces treatment times and decreases the side effects of radiation.
At one time, “medical tourism” was thriving as patients traveled around the country to ensure they received the best treatments from the best doctors in the best clinics. Today, Southwest Florida residents are blessed to live in paradise and have access to world-class cancer care right here in town.
The five-year survival rate for all women with cervical cancer is 66%. When detected early, however, that rate increases to 92%. Ultimately, we want the survival rate for all types of cancers to be 100%; to achieve this goal, our team will continue partnering with patients and working tirelessly to provide the best care possible.
Note: This article was originally published in the January 2022 issue of SWFL Health & Wellness. The monthly magazine provides information that promotes living a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle.
READ THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE: World-class doctors, cutting-edge technology defeat cervical cancer
About the Author
Dr. Graciela Garton’s passion is to serve cancer patients and their families. She has a wealth of knowledge and experience having treated thousands of patients over the last several decades. She is known for her warmth, attention to detail, and her collegiality. She is fluent in both Spanish and French.
She earned her medical degree at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she graduated with honors at the top of her class. She completed her residency at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine. She was chief resident and assistant professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic, Department of Radiation Oncology, in Rochester, MN.
During her career, Dr. Garton was involved in the development and management of radiation oncology practices in Sarasota and Bradenton, Florida, as well as in North Carolina, New Jersey, and Maryland.
Dr. Garton has been an author and co-author of over 25 research projects published in peer-reviewed journals. She has written radiation oncology-related questions for the board examination for gynecology oncology fellows and has been a recognized national and international speaker at scientific conferences.
Dr. Garton enjoys spending time with her husband, John and her two daughters, Gaby and Vanessa. She is a world-traveler and enjoys studying foreign languages, philosophy, and art.
To learn more about Advocate Radiation Oncology, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions page. There, you can learn about treatment options, referrals, insurance coverage, billing and more.