Cervical cancer is known to develop on the lower area of the uterus, which is known as the cervix. In the United States, cervical carcinoma or cervical cancer is regarded as the third most prevalent gynecologic cancer among women of all ages. However, it is known to be the most common among those in their twenties. This type of gynecologic cancer is known to usually affect women who are aged 35 to 55 years old.
Definition: Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix — the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. Various strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection, play a role in causing most cervical cancer.
The uterus, a hollow, pear-shaped organ, is located in a woman’s lower abdomen, between the bladder and the rectum.
Cervical Cancer Explained
The Cause of Cervical Cancer
The cancer of the cervix is typically caused by the human papillomavirus or HPV, and the transmission of this virus is through sexual intercourse. The younger the age of a woman when she first had sex and the number of sexual partners she had would increase the risk for cervical cancer. The risk for acquiring the illness would also escalate if sexual intercourse is done with men who had previous sexual partners also having cervical cancer. A weakened immune system and smoking cigarettes are also other risks for the development of the cancer of the cervix.
The Symptoms of Cervical Cancer
The precancerous changes that could lead to cervical cancer will typically bring no symptoms at all. During its early stages, cervical cancer may bring no symptoms or may cause abnormal vaginal bleeding, usually after sexual intercourse. Spotting or bleeding that is heavier than normal could also happen in between menstrual periods or heavier periods than normal may also be experienced. Large cancers in the cervix have the tendency to cause bleeding and may also cause vaginal discharge that has a foul smell. Pain on the pelvic area can be experienced with cervical cancer as well.
Swollen legs as well as lower back pain could also be caused if the cervical cancer has already spread to the other parts of the female reproductive system and the other nearby organs. As this could block the urinary tract, kidney failure may happen without proper treatment, thus leading to death.
The Diagnosis of Cervical Cancer
Regular Pap smear examinations and other such tests are known to detect the early signs of cervical cancer. In fact, Pap tests are known for as much as 90 percent accurate detection of cancer of the cervix, even before symptoms begin to develop. These tests could even detect dysplasia, which when treated could aid in the prevention of cancer.
If a Pap test is able to detect dysplasia or cancer cells or if a sore, an abnormal area, or a growth is noted during a pelvic examination of the cervix, then a biopsy would have to be performed. This will confirm or rule out cervical cancer.
The Treatment of Cervical Cancer
The treatment for cervical cancer would depend on its stage. Those who are still experiencing the early stage of the cancer could undergo the removal of an area of the cervix. However, because cancer is known to be recurring, women who go through this are advised to return for regular Pap tests and examinations that would need to be as often as after every three months during the first year and then after every six months after this. In more advanced stages of the cervical cancer, hysterectomy as well as radiation therapy or chemotherapy would already be called for.
The Prevention Method of Cervical Cancer
If you want to avoid getting cervical cancer, then it is very important that you subject yourself to periodic Pap tests and pelvic examinations. It would also be best if you get the newly developed HPV vaccine. However, you should keep in mind that this vaccine will only prevent cervical cancer and will not cure it.
Cancers are a bit different to each other’s but the fears and worries patients have is similar. The best option to reduce stress and focus on proper treatment of cancer is to know more about it.
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