September is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month
Cancer is a condition in which cells in the body grow out of control.
Cervical cancer is a malignant tumor that develops slowly and occurs in the cervix. Because of mutations, healthy cells in the cervix change, grow out of control and form a tumor. The abnormal cells can spread deeply into the cervix and surrounding areas.
Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers that affect a woman's reproductive organs.
Types of Cervical Cancer:
The main types of cervical cancer are squamous cell carcinomas lining the outer part of the cervix. And adenocarcinoma cells that line the cervical canal. Most cervical cancers are squamous cell carcinomas.
There are various strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection. It is a virus that spreads through skin-to-skin contact during intercourse.
HPV plays a role in causing cervical cancer. Not all types of HPV cause cervical cancer others can cause genital warts, while others may not cause any problems.
Risk factors for cervical cancer include:
- Family history, women who have a close relative who has had cervical cancer have an increased risk of developing the disease
- Early age onset of sexual intercourse
-Viral HPV infection
- History of STDs
-Multiple sexual partners are known to be at increased risk.
-A suppressed or weakened immune system can increase the risk of cervical cancers
-Limited access to effective screening
No signs or symptoms are evident in the early stages of cervical cancer. More-advanced cervical cancer signs and symptoms include:
Pain during or after intercourse,
Heavy bleeding during the menstrual cycle
Abnormal vaginal bleeding,
Unpleasant odor discharge.
Lower back or pelvic pain
Bowel or bladder issues,
Bleeding after menopause
Personal history of your symptoms, lab tests, and biopsies. Visual examination by test scopes of your bladder and rectum.
If a Pap test returns abnormal results, you will have a biopsy taken from the cervix.
Lab Imaging tests, X-ray, CT, and MRI can determine a staging level.
The most common staging system for cervical cancer shows spread within the cervix or how deep cancer has spread beyond your cervix. Each stage is given a 1 to 4 number. The higher the number, the more extensive cancer spread.
Treatments stem from the type of cervical cancer and your prognosis. Knowing the stage helps to determine the best treatment for a better prognosis. A treatment plan considers your general health, age, desire for future childbearing, and cancer stage.
Treatment can include several options; you may have one or more treatments or a combination of different treatments.
- Surgery for removal of pelvic lymph nodes of ovaries, fallopian tubes, or a hysterectomy.
- Radiation therapy to treat any stage of cervical cancer.
- Chemotherapy combined with radiation therapy helps make the cancer cells more sensitive to radiation.
- Regular follow-up visits for a period post-treatment intervention.
Early detection and Prevention:
You can reduce your risk of developing cervical cancer by a vaccine that protects against HPV infection. Cells collected from the cervix tested for the various types of HPV that lead to cervical cancer.
Ask your doctor about the HPV vaccination and whether an HPV vaccine is appropriate for you.
Practice safe sex by taking measures to prevent sexually transmitted infections.
Regular pelvic exams and a pap smear test can discover precancerous changes in the cervix.
The Pap test is the best way to find cervical cell changes that can lead to cervical cancer. The test can detect changes long before they turn into cancer. Early identification is critical. Have routine Pap tests of the cervix to rule out precancerous conditions or cervical cancer
Most women identified and diagnosed early with precancerous changes in the cervix have a very high cure rate.