Cervical cancer is the type of cancer that develops in the cervix of women, and almost the majority of cases are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Fortunately, there is a vaccine for this virus that prevents infection provided that it is given at a specific age. On the other hand, regular gynecological check-ups and pap smears contribute to early detection as well as determining the risk of disease even if there are no signs of cancer, which led to a recent decrease in the mortality rate.
The World Health Organization had launched a strategy aimed at eliminating cervical cancer, as it is a disease that can be prevented, and can be cured if detected early and treated appropriately, but it is the fourth most common type of cancer among women in the world.
This strategy aims to vaccinate 90% of girls by the age of 15 against HPV, which causes cervical cancer. If these measures are successfully taken by 2030, the number of new infections could fall by more than 40%, and the number of deaths from this disease by five million by 2050.
Almost all cases of cervical cancer are attributed to permanent HPV infection, which is transmitted through sex and is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases that affects both men and women. There are more than 100 strains of the virus, but the strains 16 and 18 in particular are responsible for about 70 percent of all cervical cancer cases.
This virus has several types, some of which are less serious and cause genital warts, and some are very dangerous and are responsible for changes in the cervical cells. Other cervical cancer risk factors are HIV, immunodeficiency, changes in cervical cells (pre-malignant changes), lack of early gynecological examination, smoking, and direct or indirect contact with people who carry this virus.
Many women recover from the virus automatically, but chronic infection leads to abnormal changes in the cervical cells, which is a pre-cancerous stage that silently develops unless treated and turns into cancer 15 to 20 years later. Since it takes years to develop, the possibility of detecting it early through a gynecological examination is possible, which increases the chances of successful treatment and survival, because this disease is completely treatable, especially if detected early.
What does the woman feel?
Symptoms of cervical cancer may be signs of other problems and diseases, but regular check-ups remain the best way for prevention because it may not cause any symptoms or they may not be obvious. Early-stage cervical cancer generally produces no signs or symptoms. Signs and symptoms of more-advanced cervical cancer include vaginal bleeding after intercourse, between periods or after menopause, watery, bloody vaginal discharge that may be heavy and have a foul odor, pelvic pain or pain during intercourse.
Tips to reduce the risk of cervical cancer:
The HPV vaccine is routinely recommended for girls and boys ages 11 or 12, although it can be given as early as age 9. It’s ideal for girls and boys to receive the vaccine before they have sexual contact and are exposed to HPV. Research has shown that receiving the vaccine at a young age isn’t linked to an earlier start of sexual activity. Once someone is infected with HPV, the vaccine might not be as effective or might not work at all. Also, response to the vaccine is better at younger ages than it is at older ages.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends that all 11- and 12-year-olds receive two doses of HPV vaccine at least six months apart, instead of the previously recommended three-dose schedule. Younger adolescents ages 9 and 10 and teens ages 13 and 14 also are able to receive vaccination on the updated two-dose schedule. Research has shown that the two-dose schedule is effective for children under 15. The CDC now recommends catch-up HPV vaccinations for all people through age 26 who aren’t adequately vaccinated.
Unlike other cancers, cervical cancer is caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), which can be passed from one person to another through sexual contact. 70 percent of women are considered to be exposed to HPV during their lifetime. There are many types of HPV, and many do not cause problems.
A Pap smear is a screening procedure for cervical cancer. It tests for the presence of precancerous or cancerous cells on your cervix, which is the opening of the uterus. If the test results are abnormal, this doesn’t mean you have cancer. It simply means that there are abnormal cells on your cervix, some of which could be precancerous. Pap tests are very accurate. Regular Pap screenings reduce cervical cancer rates and mortality by at least 80 percent. It can be uncomfortable, but the brief discomfort can help protect your health.
Smoking interferes with incidence and prevalence of HPV infection and is associated with cervical intraepithelial neoplasia and invasive CC. Multiple factors seem to intervene on cervical carcinogenesis related with tobacco, especially by direct local carcinogenic effect and local immunosuppression.
Proper nutrition, regular exercise, avoiding stress, drinking plenty of water, and adequate sleep are important steps in our daily life to prevent not only cervical cancer but many other diseases.
Treatments have developed over the years along with technological advances in the medical field, and today it is possible to treat early precancerous lesions and preserve fertility. Cervical cancer is a treatable condition, and there is an excellent chance of cure if the cancer is found and treated in the early stages.
Treatment for cervical cancer depends on several factors, such as the stage of the cancer, other health problems you may have and your preferences. Surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or a combination of the three may be used. Early-stage cervical cancer is typically treated with surgery. Which operation is best for you will depend on the size of your cancer, its stage and whether you would like to consider becoming pregnant in the future.
Early-stage cervical cancer might be treated with a radical trachelectomy procedure, which removes the cervix and some surrounding tissue. The uterus remains after this procedure, so it may be possible to become pregnant, if you choose. Most early-stage cervical cancers are treated with a radical hysterectomy operation, which involves removing the cervix, uterus, part of the vagina and nearby lymph nodes. A hysterectomy can cure early-stage cervical cancer and prevent recurrence. But removing the uterus makes it impossible to become pregnant.