What is cervical cancer?
Cervical Cancer is a type of Cancer that originates in the cells of the cervix. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus connecting the vagina. The cancer can develop from exposure to the human papillomavirus (HPV) which is a sexually transmitted infection. Regular screening and vaccinations can help prevent the development of this cancer.
Cervical cancer is largely of two types. First, squamous cell carcinoma – wherein the cancer originates in the outer lining of the cervix containing the squamous cells. Second, adenocarcinoma – which is the lesser prevalent form and originates in the column-shaped glandular cells.
What are the causes & risk factors of cervical cancer?
Cervical Cancer is caused by the genetic mutation of cells turning them from normal to abnormal cells in the cervix. The exact cause of the mutation is yet unascertained. Some of the factors that increase the risk of cervical cancer are enumerated below:
- Having multiple sexual partners
- Sexual intercourse at an early age
- Sexually transmitted diseases & infections
- Excessive smoking
- Having a weak or inefficient immune system
What are the signs & symptoms of cervical cancer?
The common symptoms of Cervical Cancer can be enumerated as the following
- Excessive & irregular vaginal bleeding
- Post-menopausal vaginal bleeding
- Vaginal bleeding with foul odour
- Pelvic discomfort & pain
- Excessive pain during intercourse
How can we prevent cervical cancer?
For the prevention of cervical cancer, a vaccination against human papillomavirus before a girl becomes sexually active is a must. Also, regular pap tests also help detect any precancerous tissues which can be addressed in the very early stage. Safe sex, personal hygiene and no smoking are some of the other factors that reduce risk of cervical cancer.
What are the treatment options for cervical cancer?
A hysterectomy is the widely prescribed treatment option for early stage cervical cancer – this involves the surgical removal of the uterus. This serves not just as a treatment for cervical cancer but also as a preventive measure against recurrence. However, as a side affect the patient can never be pregnant following a hysterectomy.
The surgery may be either a simple hysterectomy – which is removal of the cancer along with the cervix, uterus and is an option only in the early stages of the disease. A radical hysterectomy may be performed with later stage cancers wherein the cervix, uterus, a part of the vagina and lymph nodes are also removed along with the cancer.