Various techniques that are routinely employed to remove abnormal cells in the cervix could increase the risk of pregnancy complications, reveals a new study conducted by researchers at Royal Preston Hospital. This however does not hold good for laser ablation, highlights the study published in the Lancet.
Researchers have further added that women who need such treatments need not panic, as the associated risk is very small. If abnormal cells are detected in the initial tests, further investigations are ordered. Following confirmation, the doctor may decide to remove the abnormal cells and others adjacent to the area of suspicion.
A variety of techniques are now available to destroy these cells. The technique, referred to as ablation uses laser to kill the cells. Yet another technique called as Cold knife conisation involves removal of a cone-shaped wedge of tissue around the abnormal cells, using a scalpel (blade). This can also be done using laser and is referred to as Laser conisation.
Large loop excision of the transformation zone (LLETZ) is the most commonly used treatment form and is based on use of electric current to remove the area of suspicion. All of the above mentioned techniques are equally effective in preventing the pre-cancerous lesion from progressing to cervical cancer.
The researchers, headed by Dr Maria Kyrgiou, set to examine the impact of the above-mentioned treatments on future pregnancies. Surprisingly, the risk of premature delivery, low birth weight baby and having a Caesarean were found to be increased by the cold knife conisation technique.
The relative risk of having a premature or low birth weight baby, in addition to premature rupture of membranes was increased when LLETZ was performed. Laser conisation was found to have similar adverse effects, although not to the same degree. The only method found to be safe was laser ablation in which no pregnancy related complications were seen.
'Evidence clearly indicates that excision of the transformation zone is associated with a small but real increase in risk of pregnancy-related morbidity. This information should be considered when counselling women before their consent to treatment and lends support to the philosophy of doctors not treating young women with mild abnormalities,'said Dr. Kyrgiou, lead author of the study.
'Women in the UK should not be too worried by this report, as the risk of developing serious side effects during pregnancy is very small. If a woman has been told she needs treatment for any abnormalities of the cells, it could be essential that she has the necessary treatment to prevent cervical cancer from developing, but she should discuss all the options with her doctor. It is important to have published information so we understand more about the side effects that treatment for cervical abnormalities can cause. Experts in the UK are already aware of these side effects and are looking at ways to reduce them, ' concluded Professor Peter Sasieni, a Cancer Research UK expert.