Cervical cancer occurs in the cells of the cervix, the inner part of the female reproductive organ connecting the vagina and the uterus. In most cases, the human papillomavirus (HPV) plays a role in causing cervical cancer. What happens is that when you are exposed to HPV, your body’s immune system can prevent the virus from causing any harm.
However, in some people, the virus remains active for a long time leading to the process that triggers some cervical cells to become cancerous. That is why experts suggest receiving an HPV vaccine that protects against HPV and going for Hong Kong cervical cancer screening tests to reduce your risks of developing cervical cancer.
Causes of cervical cancer
Cervical cancer cells become cancerous when they mutate or develop changes in their DNA. The DNA of a cell contains the instructions that tell the cell what to do. Normally, healthy cells in the cervix grow and multiply at a specific rate and eventually die. However, cancer occurs when the cells grow and multiply out of control, and they don’t die.
As a result, numerous abnormal cells form a tumor. These cancer cells invade the nearby tissues, and they can even break away from the tumor and spread to other areas. Although it is not fully clear what causes cervical cancer, experts report that HPV plays a significant role.
However, HPV is common, and most females with the virus never develop cervical cancer. So that means other lifestyle and environmental aspects also play a role in the development of cervical cancer.
There are different types of cervical cancer:
- Adenocarcinoma is cervical cancer that starts in the glandular cells of the cervical canal lining that are column-shaped.
- Squamous cell carcinoma is cervical cancer that starts in the squamous cells (some thin flat cells), which line the outer region of the cervix that protrudes into the vagina. Most females diagnosed with cervical cancer suffer from squamous cell carcinomas.
The type of cervical cancer you are diagnosed with determines the treatment. In some cases, both types of cells could play a part in the development f cervical cancer.
Symptoms of cervical cancer
Like many other cancers, early-stage cervical cancer does not produce any signs or symptoms. That is why it is needful to regularly undergo Hong Kong cervical cancer screening to identify any cancerous cells in the early stages. In a more advanced stage of cervical cancer, you are likely to experience the following symptoms.
- Pain or pelvic pain during intercourse.
- Vaginal bleeding between menses, after intercourse, and after menopause.
- A heavy bloody, or watery vaginal discharge with a foul smell.
Ideally, you should visit a doctor if you experience any symptoms of concern.
Risk factors of cervical cancer
Several aspects may increase your chances of developing cervical cancer. They include:
- Early sexual activity- having sexual intercourse at an early age increases your chances of HPV infection.
- Having multiple sexual partners- having many sexual partners who also have many sexual partners increases your chances of acquiring HPV.
- Sexually transmitted infections- other STIs such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, HIV/AIDS, syphilis, etc., increase your susceptibility to HPV.
- Smoking is linked to squamous cells’ cervical cancer.
- A weakened immune system- you are likely to develop cervical cancer if you have a weakened immune system and especially if you have HPV.
- Exposure to diethylstilbestrol(DES)- DES is a drug miscarriage drug that was sed in the 1950s. If your mother took the medication while pregnant, you are at a greater risk of cervical cancer known as clear cell adenocarcinoma.
How to prevent cervical cancer
You can initiate some changes to minimize your chances of developing cervical cancer.
- Undergo regular pap tests- pap test is used to detect precancerous conditions of the cervix for monitoring and treatment to prevent cervical cancer. According to Hong Kong cervical cancer fund experts, it is best to begin cervical cancer pap tests at 21years of age and repeat them every few years.
- Take the HPV vaccine- taking an HPV vaccine to prevent HPV infection reduces your chances of getting cervical cancer. Most cervical cancers are linked to HPV. You should ask your doctor whether an HPV vaccine is appropriate for you.
- Practice safe sex- another way to prevent your chances of developing cervical cancer is to practice safe sex. That means taking the needful precautions to avoid sexually transmitted infections. Limit sexual partners and use a condom every time you have unprotected intercourse.
- Avoid smoking- if you are already a smoker, try your best to quit or talk to your doctor about ways to quit. If you don’t smoke, do not begin.
If you have cervical cancer
If diagnosed with cervical cancer, the next step that the doctor initiates is staging to determine the cancer stage. Your treatment plan is based on the type and stage of cervical cancer. For the early stages of cervical cancer, surgery or radiation plus chemotherapy are the common treatment options. Surgery removes the cancerous cells before they advance or multiply.
For advanced stages of cervical cancer, radiation and chemotherapy are the primary treatment options. Also, chemotherapy alone can be used to treat advanced cervical cancer. All in all, you must discuss your treatment options with your doctor, including the treatment goals and possible side effects.
Even though the type and stage of cancer determine your treatment plan, other factors like age, body chemistry, individual circumstances, general health, and personal preferences may influence the choice of a treatment method. You should also be aware of all the risks and side effects associated with cancer treatment before making your decision.
Experts suggest seeking a second opinion before beginning your cancer treatment. It can educate you more and give you more confidence in the treatment option you are about to choose. Alternative or complementary treatment methods such as special diets and herbs can also be used along with regular medical care. However, you should discuss with your doctor any alternative treatment option you consider to determine its effectiveness, as some may not have been proven to work.