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Cervical Neuroendocrine Cancers – A focus on symptoms

Jun 20, 2023

Primary Neuroendocrine Cancers of the Cervix account for less than 3% of all cancers of the uterine cervix – with diagnosis usually made by histology review, following surgery or a biopsy. 

Neuroendocrine Cancers (or NENs) are typically located in the gastrointestinal tract, the pancreas, and the lungs and are subdivided in well-differentiated neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) and poorly-differentiated neuroendocrine carcinomas (NECs). 

In Gynaecological NENs: 

    • Well-differentiated NETs include G1 (also known as typical carcinoid), NET G2 (also known as atypical carcinoid) and NET G3. 
    • Poorly differentiated NECs include small cell NEC and large cell NEC – which are aggressive malignancies.

The most common type of Neuroendocrine Cancer of the Cervix is small cell NEC (approximately 80%) : well-differentiated NETs, especially NET G1 (typical carcinoid) and NET G2 (atypical carcinoid), are very rare at this location – the cervix being the cylinder-shaped neck of tissue that connects the vagina and uterus (womb).

Like other types of cervical cancer, Small Cell Neuroendocrine Carcinoma of the Cervix (scNECC) is linked to the human papilloma virus (HPV), particularly a type called HPV 18.

You can find out more about HPV and the risks and causes of cervical cancer here.

The symptoms of scNECC are the same as for other types of cervical cancer: 

  • Abnormal bleeding : between periods, bleeding during or after sex as well as bleeding after menopause.
  • Pain : unexplained pain in your pelvis, between your hip bones, lower back and/or legs – as well as pain during or after sex – are also signs to look out for.

Further symptoms that may occur include : 

  • Alteration in usual menstrual cycle : heavier periods and longer cycle
  • Alteration in usual vaginal discharge : unpleasant, heavy +/- unusual discharge from the vagina
  • Alteration in usual bladder function : discomfort whilst urinating or loss of bladder control
  • Alteration in usual energy levels : unexplained lethargy and fatigue
  • and/or Unexplained weight loss

Please note : Many of these symptoms may have a perfectly innocent cause, like hormonal changes, however, they may also indicate infection or cancer, so it is always better to get it checked by your doctor.

 

 

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