What is cervical cancer?
The uterine cervix is the small part of a woman’s uterus, connecting the uterus with the vagina.
Cervical cancer occurs when the cells of the cervix grow abnormally and invade other tissues and organs of the body. When it is invasive, this cancer affects the deeper tissues of the cervix and may have spread to other parts of the body, most notably the vagina, lungs, bladder, liver and rectum.
Cervical cancer is slow-growing, so its progression through precancerous changes provides opportunities for prevention, early detection, and treatment.
Causes of Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer occurs from abnormal changes in the cervical tissue. The risk of developing these abnormal changes is associated with infection with human papillomavirus or hpv. In addition, early sexual contact, multiple sexual partners, and taking oral contraceptives increase the risk of cervical cancer because they lead to greater exposure to hpv.
Forms of hpv, a virus whose different types cause skin warts, genital warts, and other abnormal skin disorders, have been shown to lead to many of the changes in cervical cells that may eventually lead to cancer. Certain types of hpv have also been linked to cancers involving the vulva, penis, vagina, anus, tongue, and tonsils. Genetic material that comes from certain forms of hpv has been found in cervical tissues that show cancerous or precancerous changes.
Women who have been diagnosed with hpv are more likely to develop a cervical cancer. Female who begin sexual activity before age sixteen or within a year of starting their menstrual periods are at high risk of developing cervical cancer.
Symptoms and early signs of cervical cancer.
Pelvic pain is a possible symptom of cervical cancer.
In the early stages of cervical cancer, a women may experience no symptoms at all.
So, women should have regular cervical smear tests.
A Pap test is preventive. It aims not to detect cancer but to reveal any cell changes that indicate the possible development of cancer so you can take early action to treat it.
The most common symptoms of cervical cancer are:
Bleeding after sexual intercourse
Discomfort during sexual intercourse
Vaginal discharge with a strong odor
Bleeding between periods
Vaginal discharge tinged with blood
Bleeding in post-menopausal women
These symptoms can have other causes, including infection. Anyone who experiences any of these symptoms should see a doctor.