Cervical cancer is a disease that gets talked about often in the media and online. However, a surprising number of women do not know many of the important details about it that could help to save their life. Let’s take a look at the most important things you need to know about this dangerous disease.
What is cervical cancer?
Cervical cancer is a form of cancer that attacks tissue that is located in the cervix. The cancer develops at a slower rate than many other forms of cancer. This is the one positive thing about this disease. Because it develops so slowly, it is much easier to detect in the early and treatable stages. Therefore, assuming a woman is looking after herself as she should and getting her pap smears when they are recommended, cervical cancer should never be detected at a critical stage when it can’t be treated. Cervical cancer produces no symptoms that are obvious or immediate. However, a pap smear can be used to detect it. This is a procedure where the examination of cervical cells is performed using a microscope to look for any irregularities.
What causes cervical cancer?
Malignant cells in the cervix can begin to form due to a woman’s lifestyle or health. However, the majority of cervical cancer cases are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Of all the different types of sexually transmitted diseases, HPV is the most common. Infection occurs when bodily fluids are mixed and genitals come into contact with each other during sex. Various types of HPV exist. Some of them do not cause a problem and can remain undetected, while others can eventually cause genital warts and cancer.
What are the symptoms of cervical cancer?
One of the symptoms that is most commonly experienced is abnormal bleeding from the vagina. However, it is also possible that a woman will not experience any symptoms at all until the cervical cancer is already extremely advanced. Dysplasia is a precancerous condition that precedes cervical cancer. A pap smear can detect dysplasia and it is 100 percent treatable. This is one of the primary reasons why it is critical for a woman to have a pap smear performed on an annual basis after she begins to have sex. Women who fail to have pap smears account for the majority of women diagnosed with cervical cancer. A woman’s age, her overall health, the tumor’s size and the stage of the cancer are all factors that will determine if the cancer can be treated.
What are some of the risk factors for cervical cancer?
- A drug known as diethylstilbestrol (DES) was taken by your mother when she was pregnant with you.
- You have had several full-term pregnancies.
- You are obese.
- You have been diagnosed with chlamydia.
- Cervical cancer has been experienced by your sister or mother.
- You use birth control pills.
- Your diet does not contain many vegetables or fruits.
Even if you do not have any of these risk factors, it is still crucial that you have a pap smear performed every year just to be on the safe side. The earlier you can detect any irregularities in the cells of the cervix, the better chance you have of surviving.