Cervical cancer occurs when cells in the cervix begin to grow in an uncontrollable manner. Once these cells begin to spread then they can also attack nearby tissues and spread further throughout the body. There are generally two main sorts of cervical cancers: squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma.
Women who have strong immune systems are less exposed to such kind of infections but every year millions of women are getting affected by this particular type of cancer. Young women are more exposed to it as compared to older women.
Cervical cancer risk factors are listed below:
- Human Papilloma Virus Infection: The most significant risk factor for cervical cancer is infection by the human papilloma virus (HPV). Various types of HPVs cause lumps on different parts of the body and people should not ignore any such unexplained growth. Certain types of HPV may cause lumps on or around the female genital organs and in the anal area. HPV types 16 & 18 records the most cases of cervical cancer.
- Smoking: Women who smoke on a regular basis are exposed to a higher risk of cervical cancer.
- Unhealthy Diet: Women who do not pay attention to their diets are more prone to such ailments. It is important to eat heathy food in order to save yourself from deadly diseases like cervical cancer.
- Oral Contraceptives: Intake of oral contraceptives for a long time can also contribute in increasing the risk of cervical cancer.
- Immunosuppression: Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes AIDS, is also a major risk factor. It harms the immune system and puts women at higher danger for HPV infections.
There are no specific signs and symptoms in the early stages. However, most of the warning signs begin to appear in the advanced stages. The most common symptoms are listed below:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding after intercourse or after menopause
- Continuous vaginal discharge that may be pale in color. It can be watery in texture and foul-smelling.
- Periods become denser and last longer than usual.
Prior to any tests, a complete physical examination of the patient is done by experts. After that the following tests are done to confirm the presence of cancer cells:
- Cervical Biopsies: Numerous types of biopsies are used to diagnose presence of cervical cancer. Types of biopsies include colposcopic biopsy, cone biopsy and endocervical curettage.
- Abnormal Pap tests: An abnormal Pap test result may mean more testing, sometimes including tests to see if a cancer or a pre-cancer is actually present.
- Other tests: Some other tests include CT scan, chest X-ray, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scans.
- Regular screening and Pap smears can identify the early signs of cervical cancer. This action plays a huge role in preventing this dangerous disease.
- Colposcopy: For certain women, both HPV test & Pap test are chosen as a part of screening. If the tests come out with odd results, then such women should go for a complete evaluation including colposcopy procedure. The colposcope is an instrument with magnifying lenses and it helps the doctor to see the surface of the cervix in a more clear way.
- Quit Smoking: Quitting smoking is an additional way to diminish the threat of developing cervical cancer.
- Get Vaccinated: Quite a lot of vaccines have been developed to protect women from the possibility of developing this type of cancer.
Be it Squamous cell cancer or Adenocarcinoma, there are advanced ways to treat all types of Cervical cancer. The focus remains on strengthening the body’s immune system to fight against the disease without any major side effects.