Cancer is a significant global challenge, appearing in different types, such as brain and lung cancer. Its impact is felt universally, affecting both genders, although women may bear a slightly higher burden. Numerous distinct types of cancer are only found in women. One such deadly form of cancer is cervical cancer.
However, it can cured if detected early. In case you do not know much about its symptoms. Then, stay tuned till the end.
What Is Cervical Cancer?
Cervical cancer originates in the cervix. This is a narrow passage that connects the uterus and vagina in women. It usually develops slowly over time. This disease often develops gradually over time.
Cervical cancer may not show symptoms in its early stages. Therefore, frequent screenings are critical for detecting it early. Moreover, cervical cancer can also spread to other regions of the body if left untreated.
Causes of cervical cancer
The main cause of cervical cancer is Human papillomavirus. It is a common virus passed through sexual contact. Some of its major causes are:
- HPV Infection: Cervical cancer can be caused especially by certain forms of HPV, including HPV-16 and HPV-18.
- Unprotected Sex: Sexual activity without protection increases the chance of HPV transmission.
- Early Sexual Activity: Beginning sexual activity at a young age may increase the likelihood of HPV exposure.
- Multiple Sexual Partners: Being involved sexually with numerous partners might raise your chances of contracting HPV.
- Weakened Immune System: A weaker immune system makes it more difficult for the body to fight against HPV. Such a condition often arises due to diseases like HIV/AIDS.
- Smoking: Consuming tobacco is also linked with cervical cancer.
Symptoms of cervical cancer
Cervical cancer shows its symptoms as it progresses. Some of its common symptoms are:
- Unusual bleeding from the vagina, like between periods, after sex, or post-menopause.
- Pelvic Pain or discomfort in the pelvis, especially during sex.
- An increase in vaginal discharge that smells bad or has blood.
- Pain or discomfort during urination may be a sign, though various conditions can cause it.
- Swelling in the legs can occur if the cancer has spread.
Diagnosis of cervical cancer
A number of examinations and tests are done to diagnose cervical cancer. Some of its major stages are:
1. Pelvic Exam
A healthcare provider examines the cervix for abnormalities during a pelvic exam. These abnormalities can be lumps or changes in shape.
2. Pap Test (Pap Smear)
A Pap test involves collecting cells from the cervix to check for any precancerous or cancerous changes. Its results help detect abnormalities early.
3. HPV Test
Chronic infection with high-risk HPV types raises the risk. Therefore, doctors do a test to find its specifications.
A biopsy is done if there are irregularities found in earlier tests. This involves taking a tiny piece of tissue from the cervix and examining it under a microscope, confirming if cancer cells are present.
Available Treatments for cervical cancer
Treatment options for cervical cancer depend on its stage and other individual factors. However, some of its common treatments are:
Surgical procedures are done to eliminate cancerous cells. These procedures include hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) or removal of lymph nodes. In some cases, a less invasive surgery called a conization is also performed to remove a cone-shaped piece of tissue containing cancer.
2. Radiation Therapy
High-energy rays are used in radiation treatment to target and eliminate cancer cells. In this treatment, external beam radiation or internal radiation (brachytherapy) is used to treat cervical cancer. It often happens in combination with other therapies.
Chemotherapy means giving cancer-fighting drugs, either by mouth or through veins. These drugs work to kill or manage the growth of cancer cells all over the body. Doctors often use this treatment along with surgery or radiation, especially for more advanced stages of cervical cancer.
In conclusion, early detection through screenings is vital for effective cervical cancer treatment. Moreover, you must also take confirmatory tests, like imaging studies. It will help you assess the extent of the cancer and decide on an adequate course of action. Lastly, regular follow-up care is critical, addressing potential recurrences or side effects for optimal outcomes.