Friday, December 27, 2019

Cervical Cancer Symptoms, Risk Factors & Prevention

Cervical cancer is cancer that begins when healthy cells in the cervix develop DNA mutations. Cervix is the narrow opening into the uterus from the vagina. Transformation zone is the area where there is more likelihood of development of precancerous cells. Squamous cells form an area that is healthy and pink known as ectocervix. While columnar cells make up cervical canal or endocervix. Where both these cells meet, that area is called the T-zone.

Causes of cervical cancer:

Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the cervix. The accurate causes of cervical cancer are not known, but it's clear that human papillomavirus (HPV) play a role in causing cervical cancer. Human papillomavirus (HPV) is found in about 99 percent cases of cervical cancers. In men, HPV infection can lead to penile cancers.

There are over 100 different types of HPV but HPV-16 and HPV-18 are known as high-risk types of HPV. HPV is a sexually transmitted infection. Lifestyle and environment also play a role in developing cervical cancer. HPV also can cause cancers of the mouth, throat, and genitals in both sexes. Having an STD/STI may also contribute to the development of cervical cancers.

Hereditary nature of Cervical cancer:

There is not any certainity about the inheritance of cervical cancer. It is thought that cervical cancers are mostly caused by infection with the human papilloma virus, which is sexually transmitted.

Risk factors for cervical cancer:

  1. Sex at an early age increases risks of acquiring HPV.
  2. Smoking can cause squamous cell cervical cancer.
  3. Having many sexual partners may increase the chance of developing cervical cancer.
  4. Use of contraceptives may also be a risk factor.
  5. Sexually transmitted infections like HIV/AIDS, gonorrhea, syphilis, and Chlamydia may increase the risk of HPV.
  6. Weak immune system might also be a risk factor to develop cervical cancer.
  7. Clear cell adenocarcinoma is a certain type of cervical cancer that is caused by exposure to miscarriage prevention drug.
Stage 1 & stage 2Cervical cancer
Stage 1 & stage 2Cervical cancer

Early signs and symptoms of cervical cancer:

Any of the following could be signs or symptoms of cervical cancer:
  • Bleeding after pelvic examination
  • Bleeding resulting in anemia
  • Bleeding after douching
  • Bleeding after menopause
  • Heavier menstrual periods
  • Increased vaginal discharge
  • Foul Smelling of vagina
  • Severe Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Bleeding between regular menstrual periods
  • Unexplained, persistent pelvic and/or back pain
  • Unusual, longer, and heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Bleeding during or after sexual intercourse
  • Pelvic pain not related to your menstrual cycle
  • Pale, foul odor, thick, watery, brown, or blood mixed discharge from vagina
  • Blood spots or light bleeding between or following periods
  • Noticeable symptom of cervical cancer is abnormal vaginal bleeding.
  • Weight loss or loss of appetite
  • Lower back pain, Pelvic or Appendix Pain, Pain in leg

Prevention of cervical cancer:

You can reduce your risk of cervical cancer:
  1. The greater your number of sexual partners the greater the chance of developing HPV. So, you must avoid such practices.
  2. Avoid early sexual activities.
  3. Make your body strong by taking such food that strengthens your immune system.
  4. Quit smoking because it is deeply linked to squamous cell cervical cancer.
  5. Ask your doctor about the HPV vaccine.
  6. Pap tests can detect precancerous conditions of the cervix, so you must have routine Pap tests. 

Effects of Cervical cancer on your body:

You may feel loss of appetite and weight loss if you are suffering from cervical cancer. Tiredness, pain in pelvis, back pain, and leg pain are the signs and symptoms of advanced cervical cancer. Advanced stage cervical cancer may cause pelvic pain near the appendix.

Weight gain may occur in some cancer patients, but it is more common to lose weight during cancer treatment. Some medicines used during the treatment may affect your kidney as well. Chemotherapy may cause your hair to fall down. However, in taxol chemotherapy, your hair might grow back within a few months.

Early Detection of Cervical cancer:

Cervical cancer affects the deeper tissues of the cervix. Patients with cervical cancer do not usually have symptoms in its early stages. The Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for precancers cell changes on the cervix. Regular Pap smears are highly effective in detecting cervical cancer. Pap test results may be normal, unclear, or abnormal.

Cervical cancer is most often diagnosed between the ages of 35 and 44. Surgery is the main treatment for early stage cervical cancer. In this surgical procedure, doctors remove all the parts of cancer. 

Metastasis of Cervical cancer:

Mostly, Human papillomavirus (HPV) infections go away on their own in one to two years. But if left untreated, it can convert normal cervical cells into cancerous growths. Usually, cervical cancer is very slow growing, and it may take ten to 20 years to form the tumor.

Cervical cancers do not spread mostly, but they can invade nearby tissues or spread throughout the body. This spread to areas beyond the cervix is called metastasis. The most common places for cervical cancer to spread are the lymph nodes, liver, lungs, bladder, bones, vagina, and/or the rectum.

Cervical Cancer & Death Rates:

Pap test and HPV (Human papillomavirus) vaccination have played a vital role in the reduction of death rates due to cervical cancer. Death rates are declining by the rate of 2% with each passing year. The death rate has declined by more than 50% over the last forty years.

However, each year, about 14000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in USA. And about 4500 patients die due to cervical cancer.

Survival Rates of cervical cancer:

The five year survival rate for all women with cervical cancer is 66 percent. Patients with stage 1 cervical cancer have a 5 year survival rate between 80 & 99 percent while it decreases to 60-90% in case of stage 2 cervical cancer. In case of precancerous diagnosis of cervical cancer, the survival rates are 100 percent. Survival rates may change according to age, race, environment, lifestyle, and ethnicity.

Types of cervical cancer:

The main types of cervical cancer are:

(1) Squamous cell carcinoma:

Most cervical cancers are squamous cell carcinomas. It develops in Squamous cells of the exocervix. Squamous cells are the thin, flat cells lining the outer part of the cervix.

(2) Adenocarcinoma:

Adenocarcinoma develops from the glands that produce mucus in the endocervix. This type of cervical cancer begins in the column-shaped glandular cells. It is less common than Squamous cell carcinoma cervical cancer. The incidence of adenocarcinoma is rising in younger women.

Statistics about Cervical cancer:

There are some numbers, information and statistics about cervical cancer:

  • Cervical cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer for women worldwide.
  • In USA, HPV is thought to be the most common sexually transmitted infection.
  • More than 13,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year.
  • In the United States, about 4,000 of women die due to cervical cancer, each year.
  • The majority of women infected with the HPV virus do NOT acquire cervical cancer.
  • Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancer in women.
  • 90% of HPV infections resolve on their own within 2 years.
  • Deaths rates of cervical cancer in the USA are decreasing by 2% percent a year.
  • In black women, the five year survival rate of cervcal cancer is 56%.
  • For white women, the 5-year survival rates are 69%.
  • Most cervical cancers are squamous cell cancers.
  • Adenocarcinoma is the second most common type of cervical cancer.
  • Adenocarcinoma accounts for the 10 to 20 percent of cases while the rest (80% to 90%) of cases are squamous cell cancers.
  • A woman with a persistent HPV infection is at higher risk of developing cervical cancer.
  • Cervical cancer is not much common in younger people and rarely affects women under age 20.
  • Cervical cancer tends to occur during middle ages (35-44).
  • In fact, by age 50 approximately 80 percent of women have been infected with some type of HPV.
  • More than 15% of cervical cancer diagnoses are made in women older than 65.
  • But in women over 65, cancer typical occurs in women who were not receiving regular screening.

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