Cervical cancer is a cancer of the cervix – the entrance to the uterus. Most cervical cancer cases are caused by HPV, which is the Human Papillomavirus. There is a vaccine for HPV that will prevent this virus from infecting people and can greatly decrease a person’s likelihood of being diagnosed with cervical cancer.
Symptoms of Cervical Cancer
One of the scary parts of this disease is that in the beginning there are often no symptoms. Because of this, it’s very important that women have regular checkups and cervical tests to make sure they do not have cervical cancer. Once the cancer has progressed, there are a few symptoms to look out for that are common with this disease. Discharge that is smelly and tinged with blood, pain in the pelvis, bleeding, and discomfort are all symptoms that need to be discussed with a doctor.
Causes of Cervical Cancer
While HPV is a virus that greatly increases a woman’s risk of developing cervical cancer, this cancer has a number of risk factors that make a woman more likely to develop cervical cancer. Smoking, suffering from a weakened immune system, having several pregnancies, being under mental stress, and being sexually active at a young age are all risk factors. This does not mean that every woman who has these risk factors will be diagnosed with cervical cancer, but they do put a woman at a higher risk. Learn more about cervical cancer diagnosis and the symptoms and causes to look out for.
Luckily, there are a number of treatments for cervical cancer, and some of them have very good outcomes for the patient. Cervical cancer that is in an early stage is usually treated by surgery and some radiotherapy. More advanced cancer will be treated by radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Unfortunately, in advanced cases the cancer will usually spread beyond the cervix, so surgery is not a good treatment option.
Preventing Cervical Cancer
Getting the HPV vaccine, practising safe sex with only a few partners, and quitting smoking will all help a woman prevent cervical cancer. While there is no way to be completely assured that you will never be diagnosed with this disease, a healthy lifestyle along with regular visits to the doctor and tests will go a long way in keeping the disease at bay.
The best way to determine if a woman has cervical cancer is through a cervical smear test, where cells of the cervix are looked at to see if there are signs of cancer. An HPV DNA test is also useful, and will help determine if the patient has HPV that may lead to cervical cancer.
If you have any symptoms of cervical cancer or are at a high risk of developing it, keeping regular appointments with your doctor is a great way to stay as healthy as possible.