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Cervical Cancer - How To Prevent Cervical Cancer?

What is Cervical Cancer?



Cervical cancer is a cancer of the cervix or womb. The body of the womb is like a pouch which grows to accommodate your growing baby. The cervix connects the body of the uterus to the birth canal (Vagina). The part of the cervix that is close to the uterus is called the endocervix and the part next to the vagina is called the exocervix. The cervix is lined by 2 main types of cells called squamous cells (which are on the exocervix) and glandular cells (which are on the endocervix). The place where these two types of cells meet is called the transformation zone.

How does cancer occur?


Our body is built up of trillions of cells and each of these cells has a very tightly regulated system within their DNA which controls their growth, maturity, and division and death. When this DNA changes or damages, these cells turn to be rogue and abnormal and keeps growing uncontrollably by giving rise to cancers.

Most of the cervical cancers start in the transformation zone itself. Cancers usually begin in the cells lining the cervix. The normal cells gradually develop precancerous changes which turn into cancer and these precancerous changes are known as squamous intraepithelial lesion (SIL), cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN), and dysplasia. These changes are detected by the Pap-smear test and treatment is started to prevent the further development of cervical cancer.


Screening and Symptoms of Cervical Cancer




Cervical cancer will have no symptoms in its early stages and that is the reason screening for cervical cancer can help in detecting the early cases and thus save thousands of lives. The cells of the cervix lining undergo several changes over the years. In very rare cases, these changed cells become cancerous.

All women between the ages of 25 and 50 needs to be screened once in every three years and women between the ages of 50 and 65 should be screened for every five years to detect cervical cancer at early stages.

During the process of screening, a very small sample of cells is taken out from the cervix and then checked under a microscope for any abnormalities. This test is commonly known as cervical smear-test.

The most common early symptoms of cervical cancer include vaginal bleeding. This can happen during or after the sexual intercourse or after the menopause. Although this is quite abnormal, bleeding may not always mean having cervical cancer.


Cervical Cancer Treatment



Cervical cancer when diagnosed at an early stage, surgery can be a possible method of treating successfully. Sometimes only the cervix is removed and in most of the cases the complete womb is removed, this is called hysterectomy. Hysterectomy is usually suggested for women who have completed child birth or attained menopause.

For women with early stage of cervical cancer, radiotherapy is an alternative to surgery. But for those with advanced cancer, need chemotherapy along with anticancer drugs and radiotherapy.


Causes of Cervical Cancer


Majority types of cervical cancers are caused due to human papillomavirus (HPV) which is a very common virus that spreads during sex. There are as many as 100 types of HPV, most of which are harmless. This may lead to an asymptomatic infection or genital warts.

2 distinct strains of the HPV viruses are known to be responsible for up to 70% of cervical cancers. They are HPV 16 & HPV 18. These HPV strains can obstruct the normal functioning of the cervix cells making them dysplastic and cancerous.


Cervical Cancer Risk Factors

  • The risk factors associated with cervical cancer may include the below:
  • Heterosexual women who are sexually active.
  • Women with multiple partners
  • Women who have promiscuous male partners
  • Women who are infected with human papilloma virus (HPV) predominantly types 16 & 18
  • Women who are smokers
  • Lower social class women
  • Those with impaired immunity with HIV.
  • Women after organ transplantation

How to Prevent Cervical Cancer?


Cervical cancer can be prevented by anti-HPV vaccine. The vaccine used is Gardasil or Cervarix that protects against cervical cancer and genital warts. This vaccine is usually administered few years before a girl becomes active sexually. The recommended age to administer this vaccine is between 9 to 11 years. This vaccine protects against the 2 main strains of HPV that is responsible for more than 70% of cervical cancers in the world.