Cervical cancer is the third most common gynecologic cancer diagnosis in the United States and women’s fourth most common cancer diagnosis. Each year, there are approximately 14,000 cervical cancer cases in the United States.
While it may not be as common as other types of cancer, it’s still important to understand why it happens and how to prevent it. This is especially true since cervical cancer is most commonly diagnosed in people between 35 and 44.
So, let’s take a deep look into cervical cancer, including the causes of cervical cancer and how to treat invasive cancer.
What’s The Cervix?
The cervix is located in the lower end of the uterus. The uterus, also known as the womb, is where a baby develops when a woman is pregnant. The cervix joins the vagina (birth canal) to the upper part of the uterus. The cervix has two main functions:
During pregnancy, it keeps the baby inside the uterus
During childbirth, it opens up to let the baby pass into the vagina
The cervix is made up of different types of cervical cells. The two main types are squamous cells and epithelial cells. Most cervical cancers start in the squamous cells lining the cervix’s outer part next to the vagina. These cells can also be found in the mouth, throat, and esophagus lining.
Why Cervical Cancer Occurs and How To Avoid It
Ever wondered why cervical cancer happens? This cancer occurs when abnormal cells on the cervix grow out of control. There are two main types of cervical cancer:
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
This type commences in the thin, flat cells lining the outside of the cervix. About 80% of cervical cancers are squamous cell carcinomas.
This type begins in epithelial cells in the lining of the cervix. The rest of the cervical cancers are adenocarcinomas.
Cervical cancer usually takes years to develop. Most cases can be traced back to a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. HPV is a common virus passed from one person to another during sex. There are several kinds of HPV; some can cause cancer while others don’t.
A good number of people with an HPV infection never develop cervical cancer. Most HPV infections will heal on their own within two years. However, the virus doesn’t go away in some people and can lead to cervical cancer over time.
The vaccine can also be given to girls and women up to age 26 and boys and men up to 21. The HPV vaccine effectively prevents the types of HPV that can cause cervical cancer.
Other ways to avoid cervical cancer include:
Getting regular pap tests
Using condoms during sex
Limiting your number of sexual partners
Eating a healthy diet
Maintaining a healthy weight
As a man, you can also lower the risk of exposing your partner to cervical cancer by maintaining high hygiene standards during sex. This includes wearing condoms, considering getting circumcised, and washing your penis after sex.
Cervical cancer is a serious disease, but it is also one that’s preventable. Be sure to talk to your doctor about the HPV vaccine and get regular pap tests. These steps can help you avoid cervical cancer and live a healthy life.
What Are The Leading Signs and Symptoms Of Cervical Cancer?
Unfortunately, cervical cancer often has no symptoms in its early stage. This is why it’s important to get regular pap tests. Pap tests can detect changes in the cervical cells before they become cancer.
If cervical cancer does develop, the most common symptom is abnormal vaginal bleeding. This includes bleeding between periods, after sex, or after menopause. Other symptoms of cervical cancer include:
This can be a sign of late-stage cervical cancer. It’s important to note that pelvic pain is often a symptom of other conditions, such as endometriosis or ovarian cancer, so it’s important to talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing this.
Pain During Sex
This can be a sign of early-stage cervical cancer. You may also experience this symptom if you have an infection, so it’s important to talk to your physician to rule out other causes.
Unusual Vaginal Discharge
This can be a sign of early-stage cervical cancer. If you spot any changes in your vaginal discharge, such as a change in color, odor, or amount, be sure to talk to your doctor.
Unexplained weight loss can be a sign of cervical cancer. It’s brought on by the cancer cells using up a lot of energy, so you may notice that you are worn out all the time and have no power to do the things you love.
Being tired all the time can also be a sign of cervical cancer. Cancer cells use a lot of energy, so you may feel exhausted even after a good night’s sleep.
These are just a few symptoms of cervical cancer. If you experience these, be sure to see your doctor immediately. Early detection is key to successful cervical cancer treatment. Don’t assume anything; get checked out. When it’s caught early, cervical cancer is a highly treatable disease.
What Are The Causes Of Cervical Cancer?
The common cause of cervical cancer is the human papillomavirus (HPV, a sexually transmitted infection). HPV is a cluster of viruses that can infect the cervix. There are over 100 variants of HPV, some of which can lead to cancer.
Other causes of cervical cancer include:
Women who smoke are at risk of cervical cancer. The toxins in their bodies may damage the DNA of cells on top of causing other health issues, like high blood pressure or diabetes.
Having Many Sexual Partners
When two people have sex, the virus can pass from person to person through their skin. One way this happens is if they touch each other’s private parts without protection and then shake hands or kiss afterward.
Giving Birth To Many Children
The number of children you have can affect your chances of cervical cancer. Once pregnant, it is important to go through the normal cervical cancer screening tests and vaccinations so that no problems arise with gestation or delivery-both physically demanding tasks.
Having A Weakened Immune System
The immune system is essential in eliminating cancer cells and slowing their growth. In women with HIV, cervical pre-cancers might develop into invasive cervical cancer faster than they normally do because the virus damages parts inside a cell necessary for normal development.
Long-Term Use Of Oral Contraceptives
The risk of cervical cancer increases the longer a woman takes oral contraceptives, but it eventually drops back to normal after many years.
If you come from a family with a long history of cervical cancer, you’re also at a heightened risk of cervical cancer. A firm understanding of what causes cervical cancer is the first step in preventing it.
What Are The Treatment Options For Cervical Cancer?
The treatment options for cervical cancer largely depend on the stage of the tumor. Early stage cervical cancer can often be treated with surgery. This may include a hysterectomy, which removes the uterus, or a cone biopsy, which removes a cone-shaped piece of tissue from the cervix.
In some cases, radiation therapy, radical hysterectomy, or chemotherapy may treat early stage cervical cancer.
If cancer has spread to other parts of the body, treatment becomes more difficult. In these cases, radiation therapy and chemotherapy are often used to shrink the tumor. Unfortunately, late-stage cervical cancer is often fatal.
This is why it’s important to get regular pap tests and see your doctor if you experience abnormal vaginal bleeding. Early detection is key to the successful treatment of this disease.
Some of the ways through which early-stage cervical cancer can be detected early are:
Pap Smear Tests: These tests can detect changes in the cells of the cervix. It’s important to get regular pap smear tests, even if you don’t have any symptoms.
HPV testing: This test can detect HPV, a sexually transmitted infection that can lead to cervical cancer.
Colposcopy: This is a procedure in which a doctor looks at the cervix with a magnifying glass. This allows them to look for any abnormal areas on the cervix.
Biopsy: This is a procedure in which tissue samples are taken from the cervix and examined for cancer cells.
You can discuss these options with your doctor to determine which is best for you. Depending on your age, health, and other factors, they will recommend the best course of action to treat cervical cancer.
Remember, cervical cancer is a preventable and treatable disease. With early detection, you can increase your chances of survival. So make sure to get regular pap tests and see your doctor if you experience abnormal virginal bleeding. When cervical cancer diagnosed early, it can be managed.
What Are Precancerous Lesions and How Are They Treated?
Precancerous lesions are changes in the cervical cells that could lead to cancer. These lesions are often caused by HPV. There are two types of precancerous lesions:
Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN): This is a lesion that affects the surface of the cervix. CIN is often caused by HPV.
Atypical glandular cells (AGC): This lesion affects the epithelial cells of the cervix. AGC is often caused by HPV.
They’re typically found during a Pap test. If you have a precancerous lesion, your doctor will likely recommend one of the following treatments:
This is a procedure in which abnormal tissue is frozen and destroyed. It’s often used to treat CIN.
This is a procedure in which a laser is used to destroy abnormal tissue. It’s often used to treat CIN.
This is a procedure in which abnormal tissue is burned and destroyed. It’s often used to treat CIN.
Surgery is often used to treat CIN. This may include a cone biopsy or a hysterectomy.
Radiation therapy is sometimes used to treat AGC. Radiotherapy makes use of high-energy waves to kill cancer cells.
This is sometimes used to treat CIN or AGC. It involves the use of drugs to kill cancer cells.
Sometimes, your doctor may recommend monitoring the lesion instead of treating it immediately. This is often an option for pregnant women or those with a weakened immune system.
Precancerous lesions are treatable, and you must see your doctor if you think you may have one.
Recommendations For Caring For Cervical Cancer At Home
If you’ve been diagnosed with cervical cancer, there are some things that you can do at home to help yourself feel better.
First, it’s important to follow your treatment plan. This may include surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy. Be sure to take all of your medications as prescribed and go to all of your appointments.
It’s also important to eat a healthy diet. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables can help boost your immune system and make it easier for your body to fight cancer. It would be best if you also avoid smoking and drinking alcohol.
Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Be sure to manage stress healthily and get plenty of rest. You may also consider talking to a counselor or joining a support group.
Finally, it’s important to keep up with your regular medical appointments. Be sure to get a Pap test every three years and an HPV test every five years.
Although cervical cancer is a serious disease, it can be managed when it’s caught early enough. Following the recommendations above can help you stay healthy and catch the disease early if it does develop.
Consult your doctor if you require more personalized tips, and remember to go for cervical cancer screening regularly.
What Are These Test Results?
A Pap test is a screening test for cervical cancer. The test involves taking a sample of cervical cells. The cells are then examined for abnormalities.
An HPV test is another cervical cancer screening test. The test looks for human papillomavirus (HPV) in the cervix cells. An HPV infection can cause precancerous lesions to develop in the cervix.
If you have abnormal results on either of these tests, it does not necessarily mean you have a chance of developing cervical cancer. However, it’s important to follow up with your doctor.
Are There Support Groups And Counseling For Cervical Cancer Patients?
Yes, there are support groups and counseling available for cervical cancer patients. These can be a great resource for information and support. You can find a list of support groups and counseling services by visiting the American Cancer Society.
You may also want to consider talking to a social worker. They can help you find resources and support in your community. Don’t dismiss the idea of talking to a counselor or joining a support group. These can be highly beneficial. Some benefits are as follows-
Offering an outlet to express your feelings
Share your experiences
Make new friends
Learn from others
Receive support and understanding
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with cervical cancer, don’t hesitate to seek help. There are many resources available to assist you. You don’t have to suffer in silence. You can manage this disease and live a full life with the right support.
How Can I Prevent Cervical Cancer?
The best way to prevent cervical cancer is to get the HPV vaccine. The HPV vaccine is a series of shots that can be given to girls and boys starting at age 11 or 12. The HPV vaccine is also recommended for people up to age 26 who have not been vaccinated.
Other ways to prevent cervical cancer include:
Using a condom during sexual intercourse
Limiting your number of sexual partners
Getting regular Pap tests
If you are sexually active, getting regular Pap tests is important. Pap tests can detect precancerous lesions. These cancerous cells can be treated before they turn into cancer. It would be best if you started getting Pap tests at age 21. If you are over 30, you may only need a Pap test every three years.
What Is The Survival Rate Of Cervical Cancer?
The survival rate of cervical cancer depends on the stage of the disease. The five-year survival rate for early-stage cervical cancer is 91%. The five-year survival rate for advanced cervical cancer is 56%.
That being said, the survival rate for cervical cancer has improved over time. This is due to early detection and advances in treatment. To learn more about the survival rate of cervical cancer, visit the World Health Organization, American Cancer Society or National Cancer Institute, or speak with your doctor.
Although it’s easy to feel overwhelmed after a cervical cancer diagnosis, remember that you are not alone. There are many resources available to help you manage this disease. With the right support, you can live a fulfilling and healthy life.
Thanks to modern medicine, it’s possible to nip cervical cancer in the bud. However, it’s still important to take measures to prevent the disease in the first place. The HPV vaccine is the best way to do this.
If you or someone you know already have or are in the late/early stage of cervical cancer, don’t hesitate to seek support. Many people and organizations can help you through this difficult time. Remember, you are not alone.