What is Cervical Cancer?
Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that is found in the lower part of the uterus connected to the vagina, known as the cervix. Its cause has been tracked down to different strains of the human papillomavirus or HPV, which is a sexually transmitted infection. Cervical cancer is a malignant tumour present in the cervix that can be easily prevented with regular PAP smear screening as well as an HPV vaccine. Some of the symptoms presented by this type of cancer include bleeding after sexual intercourse and in between periods, foul-smelling white discharge, lower abdominal pain, low back pain and so on. Fortunately, it is one of the most preventable and treatable forms of cancer.
Symptoms Of Cervical Cancer
During the early stage, cervical cancer does not usually exhibit any signs or symptoms. However, as cancer progresses, advanced Cervical Cancer symptoms include:
- Vaginal bleeding in between periods
- Vaginal bleeding after sexual intercourse
- Discharge with a foul odour
- Bloody vaginal discharge
- Pelvic pain during intercourse
- Trouble peeing
- Swollen legs
- Kidney failure
- Bone pain
- Weight Loss
- Loss of appetite
As cancer advances the symptoms will seem more apparent especially if cancer has spread elsewhere in the body. Weight loss, loss of appetite and fatigue are often common symptoms associated with different types of Cervical Cancer as they progress.
Who is at Risk?
There are many reasons for Cervical Cancer. Some of the commonly seen Cervical Cancer risk factors include:
- Multiple sexual partners: The more sexual partners you have, the higher your risk of acquiring HP, which can lead to cervical cancer.
- Early sexual activity: People who engage in sex at an earlier age tend to be at higher risk of developing cervical cancer due to HPV.
- Weak immune system: People who have a weak immune system tend to be more susceptible to HPV, which again leads to cervical cancer
- Smoking: Studies have shown that smoking raises your risk of developing cell cervical cancer
- Miscarriage prevention drug: Women who have taken the miscarriage prevention drug called diethylstilbestrol during pregnancy have an increased risk of a particular type of cervical cancer
Cervical Cancer Causes
Cervical cancer usually occurs when the healthy cells in your cervix find themselves mutating their DNA. This causes these cells to grow and multiply at a faster rate. Since these cells do not die at a set rate like normal healthy cells they form a mass of a tumour. These cells also invade nearby tissues, causing cancer to spread elsewhere in your body. Studies have shown that HPV also plays a pivotal role in people developing cervical cancer. In fact, HPV is considered one of the many causes of Cervical Cancer.
How is Cervical Cancer diagnosed?
If your doctor suspects that you might have cervical cancer, they will most likely do a thorough examination of your cervix. They will use a colposcope to look for abnormal cells in your cervix. The doctor will also take a sample of a few cervical cells to send it for lab testing. In order to obtain the sample, the doctor may perform:
- Punch Biopsy: This involves the usage of a sharp tool that will pinch off small samples of the tissue from the cervix.
- Endocervical curettage: This involves using a small instrument called curet or a thin brush to carefully scrape a sample of the cervical tissue. If the results of these tests are worrisome, the doctor will order further tests like cone biopsy to come to a Cervical Cancer diagnosis.
How is Cervical Cancer treated?
Cervical Cancer treatment often depends on the stage of cervical cancer and the type of Cervical Cancer. The most commonly opted forms of treatment include:
- Surgery: Surgery is carried out to remove as many cancer cells as possible. In some cases, the Oncologist will remove only the part of the cervix that has the cancer cells, while in other cases they may remove the cervix as well as other organs.
- Radiation therapy: Radiation is used to kill the cancer cells in the cervix. It is delivered through either a machine outside your body or through a metal tube placed in the vagina or uterus.
- Chemotherapy: This is a common form of treatment for many types of cancers. You will be given strong drugs and medicine for Cervical Cancer that will help kill cancer cells in your body.
Depending on the stage of cancer, the doctor will suggest a Cervical Cancer cure accordingly. You can meet with a Cervical Cancer doctor via Cure.fit’s online video consultation to figure out the best method of treatment for you.
How can Cervical Cancer be prevented?
Since prevention of Cervical Cancer is easier than its cure, doctors advise engaging in safe sex and getting yourself a PAP smear regularly. You can also get the HPV vaccine so that you are protected from various strains of HPV which are responsible for causing cervical cancer.