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Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is one of the most prevalent malignancies in Indian women according to Indian council of Medical research (ICMR)

What is cervical cancer?

Cancer is named after that particular body part where the growth of cancerous cells takes place. The cervix is an important part of the female reproductive tract. The uterus opens into the vaginal canal through an opening which is known as the cervix. Cervical cancer is the abnormal and cancerous growth of cells present in the cervix and the cervical canal.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a very frequent infection that is seen in females and, in certain severe cases, results in cervical cancer.

What are the symptoms of cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer can be detected early as symptoms appear at early stage. The symptoms are:

  • Vaginal bleeding after intercourse (coitus)
  • Vaginal bleeding in between periods or after menopause
  • Watery or bloody vaginal discharge that may be heavy and have a foul odor
  • Pelvic pain or pain during intercourse

To prevent cervical cancer, it is critical for women to keep a close eye on their reproductive health and to detect any changes that are different from usual.

What are the main causes which lead to cervical cancer?

  • The human papillomavirus, which causes a sexually transmitted disease, is one of the major causes of cervical cancer.
  • Cigarette smoking is another significant cause of cervical cancer.
  • One of the primary causes of cancer is a genetic mutation, which occurs as a result of a number of circumstances, and smoking contains carcinogens, which are known to induce DNA mutations.

What are the risk factors involved with cervical cancer?

Risk factors for cervical cancer include:

  • Many sexual partners: The more number of sexual partners one has, greater is chance of acquiring HPV.
  • Early sexual activity: Having sex at an early age increases risk of HPV.
  • Other sexually transmitted infections (STDs): Such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and HIV/AIDS — increases risk of HPV.
  • A weakened immune system: You may be more likely to develop cervical cancer if your immune system is weakened by another health condition and you have HPV.
  • Smoking: Smoking is associated with squamous cell cervical cancer.
  • Exposure to miscarriage prevention drug: If a mother takes a drug called diethylstilbestrol (DES) while pregnancy, child may have an increased risk of a certain type of cervical cancer called clear cell adenocarcinoma.

How is cervical cancer diagnosed?

Cervical cancer can be identified using the following tests:

  • Pap test: A Pap smear is often performed to analyse and monitor any abnormal growth of cervical cells.
  • A test for the presence of human papillomavirus is also performed.
  • Aside from that, ultrasounds, CT scans, MRI scans, chest X-rays, and PET scans can be performed to detect the existence of cancer.
  • A biopsy is also performed to determine if the tumour is malignant or not.

What are the different stages of Cervical Cancer?

Cervical cancer stages are identified following a diagnosis. The various stages of cancer determine the extent of cancer and whether the tumour is benign or metastasizing (spreading to other organs)

  • Stage 1: The earliest stage of cervical cancer, where malignant cells are present in the cervix walls but have not yet metastasized. Cervical cancer is classified into two stages: 1A and 1B.
  • Stage 2: cervical cancer is diagnosed when malignant cells are detected in both the cervix and the uterus. Cancer has not progressed to the lymph nodes around the cervix at this stage. This stage is further subdivided into 2A and 2B based on the size of cancer.
  • Stage 3: Cervical cancer is diagnosed at this stage when cancer has spread extensively and the tumour has spread to nearby organs, including the vagina and pelvic wall. This is an advanced stage of cancer in which tumours can create difficulties such as obstructing the ureters and spreading to the lymph nodes. Stage 3 is divided into three stages: A, B, and C.
  • Stage 4: cervical cancer is the most advanced stage of cancer. In this stage, the tumour has spread to other organs. Cancerous cells can be discovered in the urinary bladder, the rectum, and organs such as the bone and the lungs.

How can cervical cancer be treated?

The therapy for cervical cancer is determined by factors such as your overall health, the stage of cancer, and your age. There are a few treatments that can be used alone or in conjunction with one another.

  • If the tumour’s position and location are suitable and suited for surgery, the tumour is surgically removed.
  • Radiation is given after surgery, depending upon the stage.
  • Sometimes chemotherapy is advised along with radiation. If disease has spread to other organs then only chemotherapy is given.

Going through cervical cancer is a difficult experience for a woman. Cervical cancer can be detected early and is curable. Consult your doctor if you have any symptoms described above.

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