What is Cervical Cancer
Did you know that Cervical Cancer is the fourth most occurring cancer in women?
Well, according to a report from the World Health Organization, about 570,000 recent cases were reported as of 2018. However, because this cancer grows at a slow pace, there is a greater chance for prevention, early detection, diagnosis as well as treatment options to be explored while it is still in its precancerous stage.
As you read this article further, you will be provided with more insight into what this type of cancer is all about.
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This is a type of cancer that takes place in the cervix which is the lower, narrow part of the uterus that joins with the vagina. One key player in most cases of Cervical Cancer is the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). This is a sexually transmitted infection that exists in various strains. Although the immune system helps to ward off the effects of this virus, it sometimes has the capability of surviving for several years, causing some of the cells of the cervix to become cancerous. However, you can effectively reduce the risks of this cancer by going for regular Cervical cancer screening and getting vaccinated against the Human Papillomavirus (HPV).
Causes And Risk Factors Of Cervical Cancer
As of now, the exact cause of Cervical Cancer is still unknown, although, it is certain that HPV plays a major part in its development.
However, the risk factors that can increase your exposure to HPV, as well as this cancer, include the following:
Involving in sexual intercourse from an early age.
Having many sexual partners.
A weakened immune system.
Having any other sexually transmitted infection such as HIV/AIDS, chlamydia, syphilis and so on.
Types Of Cervical Cancer
This disease occurs in two basic cells of the cervix and they sometimes occur at the same time. It is important to know which of the cells are involved in this disease, as this will aid in proffering the right the treatment option. The two types of Cervical cancer are:
This type of cancer develops from the glandular cells found in the cervical canal.
2. Squamous Cell Carcinoma:
This type of cancer develops in the squamous cells that are found at the exterior end of the cervix linking directly to the vagina.
Symptoms Of Cervical cancer
At its early stages of development, Cervical cancer does not present any signs or symptoms. However, as it progresses into its advanced stages, you will begin to notice some symptoms and signs which may include, but are not limited to the following:
Pain around the pelvic region.
Heavy blood-stained and watery vaginal discharge that occurs with a strong offensive odor.
Bleeding after vaginal penetration during intercourse.
Pain during vaginal penetration during intercourse.
Bleeding after menopause or in between periods.
How Can Cervical Cancer Be Prevented?
Reducing your chances of having Cervical cancer is achievable mainly by ensuring you adhere to certain preventive measures. These preventive measures include:
Go For HPV Vaccination: Getting vaccination against HPV is one major step in the prevention of this disease. It is also more effective when it is given to females before they become sexually active, mostly between the ages of 9 to 26.
Going For Regular Pap Test: This test is done to detect the cancer cells in its precancerous stages as this will help in the monitoring and early treatment of the disease.
Do not smoke cigarettes.
Have fewer number of sexual partners and always practice safe sex.
Staging and The Treatment Options For Cervical Cancer
If your doctor detects Cervical cancer after carrying out his tests, the stage of cancer will determine the treatment option and plan afterward. This disease is divided into four stages:
Stage I: At this stage, the cancer is still restricted to the cervix.
Stage II: At this stage, the cancer is at the cervix and has also metastasized into the upper part of the vagina.
Stage III: Here, cancer has metastasized to the lower part of the vagina or into the pelvic wall.
Stage IV: Now cancer has metastasized into other organs that are close by such as the rectum, liver, bladder, and lungs.
The different conventional medical treatment plans for this disease are provided below:
- Radiation Therapy: This involves the use of protons or X Rays to kill or shrink the cancer cells. This tradition can be administered internally, externally or both.
- Surgery: This is recommended as a treatment plan when the cancer is still in its early stages. Here, the uterus is removed alongside the cancer cells. This is called a Hysterectomy.
Now, your physician may advise either a Radical Hysterectomy which involves the removal of the lymph nodes, cervix, uterus and a portion of the vagina along with the cancer cells, or a Simple Hysterectomy which involves the removal of only the uterus and cervix alongside the cancer cells.
Follow Up care which comes after a form of treatment has been done.
Palliative Care offers relief from pain and discomfort.
Early detection and treatment of Cervical cancer increase your chances of survival. Added to this, it is recommended that women explore preventive measures such as regular Cervical cancer screening and also make an appointment with a doctor as soon as any sign and symptom is noticed.