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Cervical cancer: What is it? How can it be prevented?

The human papillomavirus (HPV) virus, which is found in the cells of the cervix, is the primary cause of cervical cancer. A person may get cervical cancer after being exposed to HPV or sexually transmitted diseases.

Cervical cancer: What is it? How can it be prevented?
Representative image

By Dr.Nandhini Elumalai, Gynaecologist, Fortis Hospital Vadapalani

The human papillomavirus (HPV) , which is found in the cells of the cervix, is the primary cause of cervical cancer. A person may get cervical cancer after being exposed to HPV or sexually transmitted diseases. Although the body fights these viruses to prevent them from causing harm, a small proportion of viruses manage to evade the immune agents, survive for years, and develop into precancerous cells. To avoid cervical cancer, it is essential to treat these troublesome cells before they develop into cancerous ones. The only cancer that is preventable with a vaccination is cervical cancer. The recommended age for vaccination is 14 years old.

We shall go over the causes and symptoms of it in more detail below.

What is Cervical cancer?

The area around the cervix is where cervical cancer first develops. The cervix is the passageway via which the uterus's lower section joins the vagina. It is crucial that you get treatment as soon as possible to prevent it from affecting your sex life and reproductive issues. Although fewer than 1 million instances were found annually, it is a rare incidence yet one of the leading causes of death in women.

The two primary forms of cervical cancer are squamous cell carcinomas and adeno carcinomas. Adenocarcinoma grows in the cervical canal, whereas squamous cell carcinoma grows in the cervix's outer layer.

According to statistics from 2022, 39% of cases—including 18% in China and 21% in India—were observed in Asia last year, resulting in 40% of deaths overall.

Cervical Cancer is the only preventable cancer that can be done via vaccine or through early detection via pap smear. Intervention during the starting stages to facilitate treatment even if there isn't enough evidence to indicate it can be completely healed.

Causes of Cervical cancer:

Although the exact cause of this malignancy is unknown, HPV undoubtedly plays a significant part. The primary causes of cervical cancer are thought to be persistent infections with certain human papillomavirus strains and STDs. Cervical cancer growth may also be influenced by lifestyle factors like smoking, unsafe sex practices, and immune system weakening. Instead of the healthy cells dying at a predetermined time, the altered DNA instructs the cells to proliferate and multiply tremendously. These long-lived, altered cells build up to develop cervical cancer as a mass.

According to a new study, the dioxins in sanitary pads can build up in the body and affect the reproductive system, perhaps leading to cervical cancer.

Symptoms of Cervical cancer:

It's critical to be aware of the symptoms, and if you experience any of the following, see a gynaecologist as soon as you can.

• Pelvic pain or pain during sex

• Vaginal bleeding following sex or after menopause

• Profuse white or bloody discharge that may be heavy and have a bad odour, especially after menopause

Preventable measures for Cervical cancer include:

We may undertake routine checks and pap tests annually, as well as the steps described below, to protect ourselves from the continued development of this cancer, and women who are unaware of how to prevent it can do the same.

• If you have family history of cervical cancer we would recommend early screening

• Quitting smoking, as it has been related to several cancers, including cervical cancer

• Use barrier contraception because it prevents the risk of HPV infection / STD, and safe sex practices

• Have a strong immune system because a strong immune system means a healthy life

• Not having other sexually transmitted illnesses (STIs) since STIs like chlamydia, syphilis, and HIV increase the risk of HPV. As directed by your doctor, get the HPV vaccine.

• Regularly doing Pap tests as part of gynaecological screening - Pap tests help to identify cervixes that are developing precancerous conditions. It lowers the chance of developing cervical cancer. Liquid based cytology PAP test with HPV Screening in the ideal method

• Women who have undergone multiple deliveries or practice unsafe sex are at a high risk of cervical cancer

• If the pap smear picks a HPV infection / pre cancer lesion at an early stage, the women may need only conization as a fertility preserving surgery and is useful if they are planning for the next child

Treatment for Cervical cancer:

If your doctor confirms that you have cervical cancer, you can ask them what can be done to treat it. To recover from it, doctors may use one or more of the treatments listed below.

• Radiation

• Chemotherapy

• Surgery

• Targeted therapy

• immunotherapy

Last but not least, cervical cancer can be prevented and treated, particularly if it is discovered at a precancerous stage. If you are not taking any preventative measures and experience any of the afore mentioned symptoms, contact your local gynaecologist right away to obtain assistance with further procedures.

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