The uterine cervix is the lowest portion of a woman's uterus (womb), connecting the uterus with the vagina.
Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix when the cells of the cervix grow abnormally and invade other tissues and organs of the body. When it is invasive, this cancer affects the deeper tissues of the cervix and may have spread to other parts of the body (metastasis), most notably the lungs, liver, bladder, vagina, and rectum.
Most cervical cancers begin in the cells in the transformation zone. These cells do not suddenly change into cancer. Instead, the normal cells of the cervix first gradually develop pre-cancerous changes that turn into cancer.
Most women diagnosed with precancerous changes in the cervix are in their 20s and 30s, but the average age of women when they are diagnosed with cervical cancer is the mid-50s.
What causes cervical cancer?
Cervical Cancer is the result of the uncontrolled division and growth of abnormal cells. It begins when healthy cells acquire a genetic change (mutation) that causes them to turn into abnormal cells.
It isn't clear what causes cervical cancer, but Gynecologist in Chandigarh says it's certain that HPV plays a role. It is found that Human papillomavirus (HPV) causes the majority of cervical cancer cases. It is a sexually transmitted virus.
Some risk factors that might increase the risk of developing cervical cancer.
- Many sexual partners: The greater your number of sexual partners, the greater your partner's number of sexual partners — the greater your chance of acquiring HPV.
- Early sexual activity: Having sex at an early age increases your risk of HPV.
- Smoking: This increases the risk of cervical cancer, as well as other types.
- 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.
- Other sexually transmitted diseases (STD): Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis increase the risk of developing cervical cancer.
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As in many cancers, you may have no signs or symptoms of cervical cancer until it has progressed to a dangerous stage.
Signs and symptoms of more-advanced cervical cancer provided by Gynaecologists in Sector 19 Chandigarh include:
- Abnormal Vaginal bleeding after intercourse, between periods or after menopause
- Watery, bloody vaginal discharge that may be heavy and have a foul odor
- Pelvic pain or pain during intercourse
- Kidney failure due to a urinary tract or bowel obstruction, when the cancer is advanced
How can you prevent cervical cancer?
The most common form of cervical cancer starts with pre-cancerous changes, and there are ways to stop this disease from developing. Cervical cancer can often be prevented by having regular screenings to find any precancers and treat them.
To reduce your risk of cervical cancer:
- Get vaccinated against HPV
Vaccination is available for girls and women ages 9 to 26. The vaccine is most effective if given to girls before they become sexually active.
- Have routine Pap tests
Pap tests can detect precancerous conditions of the cervix so they can be monitored or treated in order to prevent cervical cancer. Most medical organizations suggest women begin routine Pap tests at age 21 and repeat them every few years.
- Practice safe sex
Using a condom, having fewer sexual partners and delaying intercourse may reduce your risk of cervical cancer.
- Don't smoke.
How can you Treat cervical cancer?
Treatment for cervical cancer depends on several factors, such as the stage of cancer, other health problems you may have and your preferences. Surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or a combination of the three may be used.
Treatment for early-stage cervical cancer, when cancer remains within the cervix, has a good success rate. Further cancer spreads from its original area, the lower the success rate tends to be.
Surgery is a common treatment method when cancer has not spread from the cervix. Early-stage cervical cancer is typically treated with surgery to remove the uterus (hysterectomy). A hysterectomy can cure early-stage cervical cancer and prevent a recurrence. But removing the uterus makes it impossible to become pregnant.
Radiation therapy may help after surgery if a doctor believes that cancer cells might be present inside the body.
Radiation therapy uses high-powered energy beams, such as X-rays or protons, to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy may be used alone or with chemotherapy before surgery to shrink a tumor or after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells. Radiation therapy may also reduce the risk of recurrence (cancer coming back).
Radiation therapy can be given:
- Externally, by directing a radiation beam at the affected area of the body (external beam radiation therapy)
- Internally, by placing a device filled with radioactive material inside your vagina, usually for only a few minutes (brachytherapy)
- Both externally and internally
Premenopausal women may stop menstruating and begin menopause as a result of radiation therapy.
Chemotherapy is the use of chemicals (medication) to treat any disease. Chemotherapy uses medications, usually injected into a vein, to kill cancer cells. Doctors use chemotherapy to target cancer cells that surgery cannot or did not remove, or to help the symptoms of people with advanced cancer.
Low doses of chemotherapy are often combined with radiation therapy, since chemotherapy may enhance the effects of the radiation. Higher doses of chemotherapy are used to control advanced cervical cancer that may not be curable.