Cervical cancer is a very serious women’s cancer that is 3rd in the appearance of all female cancers in the world. Cervical cancer appears on the cervix and is formed from squamous cells there. It is usually caused by the human papilloma virus or HPV, which also can cause genital warts.
How dangerous is cervical cancer?Credit: http://nadeco.org/357/
It is a slow forming type of cancer that can be easily discovered if the woman gets a procedure called a Pap smear, which is when doctors take a sample of the woman’s cervical cells and test them to see if any cancerous cells are present. Caught in the early stages, it can be 100 percent cured.
If not caught early, cervical cancer can spread to the other organs such as the bladder, lungs, intestines, and liver. This process may cause very little symptoms until it is too late to do much for it and can take several years to get to that point.Credit: http://www.umm.edu/patiented/articles/how_can_human_papillomavirus_hpv_cervical_cancer_be_prevented_000046_7.htm
What are the risk factors for cervical cancer?
Women who engage in the following activities or who experience the following are more at risk for getting cervical cancer:
- Started having sexual intercourse very early
- Having many different sexual intercourse partners
- Having a mother that took DES drug when she was pregnant. This drug was given to women in the 1960s to prevent a miscarriage but later on it was discovered it adversely affected her children.
- Having a weak immune system
- Not having regular Pap Smears to detect cervical cancer early
Symptoms of cervical cancer
While cervical cancer doesn’t have symptoms in the beginning, later on these symptoms can show up:
- Bad smelling vaginal discharge that is watery and pink or brown in color
- Bleeding in-between menstrual cycle or in post menopausal women
- Bleeding after sexual intercourse
- Extremely long and heavy menstrual cycles
More advanced cervical cancer may also add these symptoms:
- No appetite
- Unusual weight loss
- Pelvic or back pain
- Leg pain or swollen leg
- Urine or feces leak from vaginal area
- Fractured bone
Treatment for cervical cancer
If caught early, cervical cancer is treated by removing the cancer cells by freezing or cryotherapy, burning off with laser therapy, or using loop electrosurgical excision procedure or LEEP to destroy the cancerous tissue. If in later stages a women may have to have a hysterectomy to remove the cervix and uterus and in advanced versions surrounding tissues or even other organs such as the bladder or rectum must be taken out.
Radiation may also be used to treat some forms of cervical cancer. This can be done either by putting the radioactive materials inside the body near the cancerous area or by beaming radiation into the body like an x-ray machine.
Another way to treat cervical cancer that is more advanced is through chemotherapy. This is a form of special strong drugs to kill the cancer and can cause side effects like hair loss, nausea, tiredness, etc. Sometimes both radiation and chemotherapy are combined for best results.