Cervical cancer is a type of cancer which develops in the cervix cells. It is the narrow part of the lower uterus (womb) that connects to the vagina. Such condition crops up when the cervix cells grow abnormally. Thus, it affects other tissues and organs as well. When the abnormal cell growth envelopes other tissues, the deeper tissues of the cervix also gets affected. As a result, slowly the virus spreads to the other body parts. It includes the liver, lungs, bladder, rectum, and vagina.
However, the growth of the cancerous cells is very slow. Due to which patients have the opportunity of treatment and prevention during the precancerous stage of the progression stage. Early detection helps take initiatives for prevention. Mostly, women get diagnosed with the condition during their 20s-30s. But the highest average of women diagnosed with cancer is in their mid 50’s. The gap between the initial stage of cancerous cell growth and the precancerous changes classifies the slow progression of the disease.
Major Causes of Cervical Cancer
In the initial stage, the cervical tissue starts growing abnormally. The risks associated with the development of abnormal cell growth include Human Papillomavirus – HPV. It is the major cause.
Apart from HPV, multiple sexual partners, early sexual contact, and consuming oral contraceptives or birth control pills contribute to increased risks. Hence abnormal growth of the cancerous cells leads to greater exposure to HPV.
HPV is a sexually transmitted virus. HPV also causes genital warts, skin warts as well as other abnormal skin orders. Such conditions caused by the virus also lead to changes in cervical cells. It ultimately leads to cancer.
Certain types of the HPV virus are also associated with cancer in the vagina, penis, vulva, anus, tonsils, and tongue. The genetic material in certain types of HPV is found in the cervical tissues. It initiates cancerous or precancerous changes.
Cigarette smoking is another factor that raises the risks of developing cancer. The chemicals present in the cigarette smoke interacts with the cervix cells causing precancerous changes.
Girls having sexual intercourse before the age of 16 or within one year of starting menstrual periods are likely to develop cancer in cervical.
The weakened immune system is also one among the causes.
Common Symptoms of Cervical Cancer
In its early stage, there are no symptoms or signs of cancer. However, the signs start showing after the condition progresses to an advanced and dangerous stage.
The symptoms include:
- Vaginal bleeding after intercourse
- Bleeding between periods or after menopause
- Bloody or watery vaginal discharge which may have a foul odor and may be heavy
- Experiencing pain during intercourse
- Pelvic pain
- Kidney failure for obstruction in the urinary tract or bowel
How to Prevent Cervical Cancer?
Diagnosing the condition at an early stage will prevent it from progressing. Immediately consult a doctor if any of the symptoms or signs start showing. It is helpful once the doctor provides treatment at an early stage. Treating cancer in the cervix during its precancerous stage when it has affected the surface and a small part of the cervix will be successful. Unlike treating the invasive condition when a large area of cervix gets affected and has already spread to other tissues!
Most Effective Treatment Options
The treatment options for cervical cancer include surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or the combination of all these methods. Doctor suggests the treatment after diagnosing the condition.
Doctors go for surgery when the virus has not spread from the cervix. Surgery is the common treatment opted by a doctor in most of the cases.
Radiation therapy works effectively after surgery. It is opted if the doctor believes that the cancerous cells might be present in the cervix. Radiation also reduces the reoccurrence.
Chemotherapy is the treatment option when the cancerous cells have invaded other areas of the body. If the condition has reached the last stage the doctor opts for a combination of radiation therapy and chemotherapy. In chemotherapy, the doctors use chemicals for the destruction of the cancerous cells. Doctors advise chemotherapy at the last stage.
Of course, prevention is better than cure! There are several measures for preventing the chances of developing cancer in cervical. The prevention methods include HPV vaccine, safe sex, less sexual partners, delay in first sexual intercourse, and quitting smoking. Hence, always consult a doctor on time for timely treatment. Also, get all the test done on time.