Cervical cancer is a malignant tumour of the lowest part of the uterus called the cervix. It occurs in the cells of the cervix due to the out of control growth of abnormal cells.
It is common in women, especially in developing countries. In countries such as The United States, it is not common due to the routine cervical cancer screening.
Risk Factors for Cervical Cancer
One of the most common causes of cervical cancer is HPV infection. Women who are sexually active are at risk of developing it. Other reasons include poor immunity and HIV, overweight, multiple sex partners, multiple pregnancies and smoking. Tobacco byproduct damages the DNA of cervix cells and also decreases the effectiveness of the immune system to fight against HPV infection.
First pregnancy before 17 years of age, oral contraceptives and family history may also be behind cervical cancer. A few other causes are discussed below:
Causes of Cervical Cancer:
It is a sexually transmitted disease, and research shows that women with the past or current infection of chlamydia are more at risk to develop cervical cancer.
It forces a woman to live in unhygienic conditions and unable to access health services and screening pap smear test for HPV infections.
It is given to women to prevent miscarriage, but it results in the development of clear cell adenocarcinoma of cervix and vagina.
Symptoms of Cervical Cancer:
The signs of cervical cancer include abnormal vaginal bleeding, intermenstrual bleeding. Menstrual periods are more extended and more substantial. Bleeding may occur after douching. Bleeding after menopause may also be a sign of cervical cancer. Increased discharges from the vagina which is usually foul smelling and thick. Pain during and after sex generally in an advanced stage of cervical cancer. Pain in the pelvis. Unusual and frequent Cramping and ache that lasts for a period of a long time. Mostly occurs in advanced stages. Burning sensation and stinging pain while passing urine. Frequent and incontinence urination. Blood may be present in urine. Anaemia, fatigue, weight loss, loss of appetite, pain and swelling in the legs.
How to Prevent Cervical Cancer:
In most of the cases, cervical cancer does not cause any symptom in the early stages. The pre-cancer condition develops into o invasive cancer only in a few women, and that too takes many years. Knowledge of symptoms, risk factors and preventive measures and early treatment pre-cancer may protect women from developing cervical cancer. Pre-cancer may be treated with Cryosurgery, cauterisation, and laser therapy.
1. Routine pap smears test-
To rule out and address any pre-cancer before they turn into invasive cancer. If Pap test shows, minor abnormal cell changes doctor may recommend colposcopy, a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. X-ray CT-scan, MRI, PETscan may be done to detect the stage of cancer. The Pap smear test after the age of 21 every three years.
2. Routine HPV DNA test –
To identify the high-risk form of HPV. Pap smear and HPV testing should be done combined, in women between 30 to 65 years in every five years.
Other necessary precautions you need to take to prevent cervical cancer are avoid smoking, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, HPV vaccination and use of condoms.
Treatment for Cervical Cancer:
It depends on the stage of cancer. Methods of treatment include radiotherapy, surgery, chemotherapy and targeted therapy.