-January 14, 2022
What are the Causes and Risks Associated with Cervical Cancer?
Cervical cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the cervix's perimeter. The cervix is part of the female reproductive system and connects the vagina to the upper portion of the uterus, where a baby develops when a woman is pregnant.
Cervical Cancer ranks 4th of all cancers and is the leading cause of cancer deaths in women across the Globe. The mortality rate recorded in 2020 was over 340 000 women, expecting it to grow, especially in impoverished and vulnerable societies.
Signs Of Cervical Cancer
It's hard to usually detect early-stage cervical cancer, as it exhibits no signs or symptoms. As cervical cancer advances into its later stages, it has noticed symptoms.
- Inconsistent vaginal bleeding, bleeding after sexual intercourse or in between periods.
- Postmenopausal bloody vaginal discharge, which may be foul-smelling.
- Pelvic pain or discomfort during intercourse
What Causes Cervical Cancer?
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infections commonly cause cervical cancers. It is a set of viruses that exist in 100 distinct types globally, of which at least 14 are high-risk types that cause cancer. We believe the 16 and 18 HPV virus types cause 70% of cervical cancers and precancerous cervical lacerations. Studies also reveal that most people with the virus never develop cancer because of their lifestyle preferences.
Cervical cancer starts when healthy cells in the cervix facilitate mutations in their DNA. A cell's DNA possesses the instructions that tell a cell what to do. When these healthy cells mutate rapidly, and the multiplication is out of control, they accumulate as abnormal cells and form tumours. These abnormal cancer cells can breach adjacent tissues and split off from a tumour to spread (metastasize) elsewhere in the body.
Risk Associated With Cervical Cancer
But some risk aspects result in a continuance of infection, which induces oncogenic transformations in the cervix, resulting in cervical cancer. The risk factors are:
- Poor Hygiene
- Having multiple sex partners
- Prolonged use of the oral contraceptive pill
- doubled the number of childbirths
- Co-existence of HIV infection
The Significance of Cervical Screening
A notable cause of cervical cancer incidence across the nation is the shortage of knowledge of this condition and the absence of cervical screening. Screening can find transitions in the cervix before cancer develops, and it can also detect cervical cancer early when it has not spread and is amenable to curative treatment. Because of the scarcity of screening, many cervical cancer cases are seen in advanced stages, leading to high mortality rates.
Women who are living with HIV are notably vulnerable to cervical disease. They are more likely to have repeated HPV infections and more brisk progression to pre-cancer and cancerous stages. This concludes several times the elevated risk of cervical cancer among females living with HIV.
In recognition of this, the new guideline incorporates instructions specific to women who have HIV. This makes up for using an HPV DNA primary screening test, followed by a triage test if the outcomes are positive for HPV, to evaluate the results for cervical cancer risk and the need for treatment. As mentioned earlier, the global guidance also advises that screening should start at 26 rather than at 30 years of age.
Women experiencing HIV must also be retested after a briefer time interval following a positive test and following therapy than females without HIV.
Ways To Reduce Your Risk Of Cervical Cancer
1.Go For Periodic Pap Tests.
Pap tests help doctors notice abnormalities regarding changes in the cells on your cervix and take measures before cervical cancer grows. Women should go for a Pap test once every three years starting at age 21. Once she turns 30, we urge Pap smears every five years as long as you have HPV testing with your Pap and the negative results.
In addition, a gynaecologist should evaluate any bleeding associated with the intercourse. Studies conducted worldwide have revealed that 60 to 80 percent of women with freshly diagnosed invasive cervical cancer have not gone for a Pap test in the past five years. And, even more terrifying, many of these women have never had the examination done.
2.Follow Up On Abnormal Pap smears.
If an ailment is noticeable, your doctor will treat you and repeat the Pap test later. If the examination or Pap test shows something other than an infection, your doctor will offer other tests to resolve the problem. Sometimes, where women had prior abnormal Pap test results, doctors may also execute an HPV DNA test, revealing HPV on a woman's cervix.
You can get vaccinated with the best vaccines available worldwide, namely Cervarix and Gardasil, which are known to protect you against varieties of HPV that induce the most cervical cancers. The physicians will schedule your doses after discussion with you. For those who one or more HPV types have influenced, the vaccine can still protect you from other HPV types.
4.Practice Safe Sex
Studies have revealed that women with multiple sexual partners increase their risk of developing HPV. Sexually active women who use a condom every time have a lower risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases. Condoms will indeed lower the risk of developing HPV-related diseases, including cervical cancer. However, be aware that HPV can affect areas unprotected by a condom, so condoms may not fully protect against HPV. Therefore, it's always recommended to get the HPV vaccine and use condoms.
Smoking cigarettes increases your risk of acquiring cervical cancer. Research has revealed that tobacco by-products harm the DNA of cervix cells and may lead to cervical cancer progression.
Frequently Asked Questions
1.What is the period for the spread of Cervical Cancer?
It takes many years for cervical cancer to develop and spread. In the early stages, cell changes that occur before cancer is termed dysplasia. We diagnosed many women with precancerous cell changes (dysplasia) in their 20s and 30s. Still, the average age of cervical cancer diagnosis is in the late 40s, which shows the slow progression of the disease.
2.How can you diagnose Cervical Cancer?
The best way to get your cervical cancer diagnosed is by
- Pap test
- Cervical Biopsy
If the cancer is diagnosed, further testing include computed tomography (CT), Chest X-rays, and PET (Positron Emission Tomography)
3.What surgeries are available for Cervical Cancer?
The surgeries available for Cervical Cancer includes Cryosurgery, Laser surgery and Radical hysterectomy.
4.What is the survival rate after being diagnosed with cervical cancer?
The survival rates are higher for women in the earlier stages. Other elements that can affect the prognosis include the woman's age, general health, and her reply to treatment. The survival rate seen is at least five years after being diagnosed.
5.What are the risk factors for developing cervical cancer?
- Impaired immune system (HIV/AIDS, taking immunosuppressive medications)
- Family history of cervical cancer
- Numerous sexual partners
- Being overweight/obese
- A diet that is low in fruits and vegetables