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Sasa here, your Health Assistant from Treat at Home. The second most common type among cancers is Cervical Cancer. Women of all ages are at risk to get cervical cancer.
Even though, cervical cancer is the most common type, it is highly treatable and preventable when compared to other types of cancer affecting women. This article is mainly for creating awareness about cervical cancer in a simple way.
What is Cervical Cancer?
Cervix is nothing but a cylinder-shaped neck of tissue that connects the vagina and uterus. It is located at the lowermost portion of the uterus. Cervical Cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix. This cervical cancer affects the deeper tissues of the cervix and may spread to other parts of the body often the vagina, rectum, bladder, lungs, and liver. Cervical cancer usually grows slowly, which is why it is highly treatable.
Causes of Cervical Cancer
In general, cancer is the result of uncontrollable division and the growth of abnormal cells in the body. So, the end result is an aggregation of cells which eventually forms a lump or tumor.
So, it is better to say risk factors instead of causes.
Human papillomavirus (HPV)
It is nothing but a sexually transmitted infection that plays a major role in causing cervical cancer. Early sexual activity, multiple sexual partners, and long-term use of oral contraceptive pills increase the risk of getting HPV, and thus by the risk of getting cervical cancer is more when compared to other women.
Other sexually transmitted infections
Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, HIV/AIDS increases the risk of acquiring HPV and thus by increases the risk of cervical cancer rate.
Smoking is associated with squamous cell carcinoma of cervical cancer.
Weakened immune system
More possibility to get HPV which then puts at risk.
Exposure to Diethylstilbestrol (DES)
If the mother took a miscarriage prevention drug, the baby may be at risk of developing cervical cancer in the later stage of life.
Poor lifestyle choices
An imbalanced diet, poor sleep schedule, and disturbed mental and emotional health can contribute to cancer.
Symptoms of Cervical Cancer
The early stages of cervical cancer generally don’t have any signs or symptoms. The advanced stage includes,
Unusual bleeding occurs apart from a regular menstrual cycle like bleeding after intercourse, bleeding between periods, or bleeding after menopause.
Pelvic pain or Pain during intercourse
Normal sexual activity can be painful if you have cervical cancer.
Discharge may be watery and bloody having a foul, pungent odor.
Other tumor compressive symptoms include Urinary incontinence, Back pain, Sore legs, Changes in bowel habits, Nausea, Fatigue, and Weight loss.
Cervical Cancer Diagnosis
Thorough clinical history and physical examination is the first step followed by Pap smear, Colposcopy, Blood tests, CT, MRI, and PET scans.
Types of Cervical Cancer
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
It’s found in up to 90% of cases. This forms in the lining of the cervix.
This forms in the cells that produce mucus called mucous membrane.
Combination of the two above carcinomas.
Stages of Cervical Cancer
4 stage system is the most common way to stage cervical cancer. There is something called Stage 0 which has the presence of precancerous cells. Other stages are,
Cancer cells have grown from the surface into deeper tissues of the cervix and possibly into the uterus and nearby lymph nodes.
Cancer moved beyond the cervix and uterus but not as far as the walls of the pelvis or the lower part of the vagina. It may or may not affect nearby lymph nodes.
Cancer is present in the lower part of the vagina or the walls of the pelvis and it may be blocking the ureters. It may or may not affect nearby lymph nodes.
Cancer affects the bladder or rectum and grows out of the pelvis. It may or may not affect the lymph nodes.
After these stages, it metastases to distant organs including the liver, bones, lungs, and lymph nodes.
Prevention of Cervical Cancer
Since cancer is unprecedented, it is better to follow a healthy lifestyle and follow these preventive measures,
– High nutritious diet rich in fruits and vegetables
– Adequate sleep
– Self care activities include taking care of mental and emotional health
– Avoiding smoking
– Practicing safe sex
– Checking with other conventional precautions like having routine Pap smear tests and receiving HPV vaccination.
Treatment for Cervical Cancer
Depending upon the stage of cancer, the conventional mode of treatment varies from one person to another, starting from Conization, Radical Hysterectomy, Chemotherapy, Radiotherapy, and targeted treatment.
Few tips to take care of you at home while getting treatment for cancer
– Right nutrition and a protein-rich diet are advised.
– Adopting healthy lifestyle choices like mild physical activity to keep up your energy level, getting enough rest at night, mindfulness & meditation.
The effective cancer prevention tactic is to avoid risky behaviours that can lead to infections that, in turn, might increase the risk of cancer.
Author: Dr. Raji Arabi
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