Cervical cancer is the most common cancer and also the leading cause of cancer mortality in women, both in India and abroad. It occurs in the lower part of the uterus, which is called as cervix. Overgrowth of abnormal cells in the cervix leads to cervical cancer. It is caused by a virus known as Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Not all HPV infections cause cervical cancer, some cause genital warts while some others show no symptoms at all. Most HPV infections resolve on their own, but sometimes they cause genital warts or lead to cervical cancer. How to Protect yourselves from Cervical Cancer
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How to Protect yourselves from Cervical Cancer
Regardless of age, all women are at a risk of developing Cervical cancer. It can be successfully treated if the infection is found in the early stages through a PAP test. A normal biopsy or cone biopsy is done to diagnose cervical cancer. The survival rate is 93% if the condition is diagnosed in the early stages.
Read on to know how to protect yourselves from cervical cancer
Know the Symptoms of Cervical Cancer-
- Abnormal bleeding from vagina between menstrual periods or after sexual intercourse or after menopause
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Abnormal vaginal discharge
- Pain in pelvis/lower belly.
The Risk of developing cervical cancer increases in the following cases-
- Early marriage
- Usage of hormonal contraceptives
- High number of pregnancies
Cervical cancer screening tests-
- PAP smear – This test can find any changes occurring in cervical cells before they can progress to cancerous stage.
- HPV DNA Test – It gives a highly sensitive and specific detection of HPV infection. This can be done both as a primary screening or in combination with PAP.
- FISH analysis – This test helps to find out the chromosomal aberrations in the genetic material. It is a standard test to look for abnormal cells.
- If you fall under 21-30 yrs age group, you should have PAP tests once in every 3 years
- If you fall under 30-65 yrs age group, you should have a combination of HPV and PAP test once in every 5 years
- If you are above 65 yrs, you do not need any PAP tests if you had 2 HPV+ PAP tests with normal results in a row
Screening tests are highly recommended for women who-
- Are above 35 years of age
- Have HPV infection
- Are married for more than 8 years
- Have an abnormal PAP smear
Stages of Cervical Cancer
- Stage 0 – Cancer cells will be found only on surface of cervix
- Stage 1 – Cancer spreads but not beyond cervix
- Stage 2 – Tumor spreads to upper area of vagina
- Stage 3 – Tumor spreads to lower part of vagina and starts to block urine
- Stage 4 – Tumor spreads to bladder/rectum and also forms new tumors in other parts of the body
Cervical Cancer Treatment-
Treatment of cervical cancer varies according to the stage the individual is in. The affected person may need to undergo one or more treatments or a combination of the following treatments.
- Surgery- This involves surgical removal of uterus (hysterectomy) and removal of pelvic lymph nodes with or without removing ovaries and fallopian tubes. This can be avoided if cancer is found early.
- Chemotherapy – This involves using medications to kill cancerous cells. It is used to treat advanced stages of cervix cancer.
- Radiation therapy – This involves exposure to high dose X-rays or implants in vaginal cavity to kill cancerous cells. It is mostly used in combination with surgery.
- Chemoradiation – This involves the use of both chemotherapy and radiation to treat both early as well as late stages of cervical cancer.
It is very important for women to get themselves checked regularly for the presence of cervical cancer. Getting tested in the above recommended time intervals can help to detect the disease at an early stage and thereby prevent cervical cancer. HPV vaccination is also highly recommended to avoid HPV infections, which can cause cervical cancer.
The above article is about How to protect yourselves from cervical cancer.