A group of diseases that are caused due to unchecked growth and spread of unusual cells is called cancer. If left untreated, these unusual cells can invade and damage nearby tissues and organs. Cancer can also spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems. While some affect the blood and immune system,. Some other kinds of cancer affect certain organs in specific. The main causes of cancer are genetics, environmental factors, and lifestyle factors such as tobacco use, alcohol consumption, and a diet high in processed and red meats. Some common symptoms include unexplained weight loss, fatigue, fever, and pain.
Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that affects the cervix – the lower part of the uterus connecting to the vagina. It is a common type of cancer among women, but it can be prevented with regular screenings and treated if caught early. It is caused by the abnormal growth and division of cells in the cervix. The main cause of cervical cancer is infection with certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV).
HPV is a sexually transmitted virus that can infect the genital area. Most people who are sexually active will be infected with HPV at some point in their lives, but the infection usually goes away on its own.Certain types of HPV, however, can cause abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix. These changes can lead to precancerous conditions, which are abnormal cell growths that are not yet cancer but have the potential to turn into cancer. If left untreated, these precancerous conditions can progress to cervical cancer.
Other factors that can increase the risk of cervical cancer include having multiple sexual partners, having sex at a young age, having a weakened immune system, and smoking. Using oral contraceptives or birth control pills for a long time can also slightly increase the risk of cervical cancer.
The common signs of cervical cancer to watch out for
Common symptoms of cervical cancer include abnormal bleeding, such as bleeding between periods, after menopause, or after sexual intercourse; abnormal vaginal discharge; pain during intercourse; and pelvic pain. However, it is important to note that these symptoms can also be caused by other health conditions, and do not necessarily mean that a person has cervical cancer.
Precautions against cervical cancer
There are several precautions that can be taken to reduce the risk of developing cervical cancer.
● The most effective way to prevent cervical cancer is to get vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is a common sexually transmitted infection that can cause cervical cancer. The HPV vaccine is recommended for both boys and girls at the age of 11 or 12, but can be given to anyone up to the age of 21.
● In addition to getting vaccinated, it is important to practise safe sex by using condoms and limiting the number of sexual partners.
● It is also recommended to have regular Pap tests, which can detect abnormal cells in the cervix and allow for early treatment.
Treating cervical cancer
If cervical cancer is detected early, it can often be treated successfully. Treatment options may include surgery to remove the cancerous tissue, radiation therapy to kill cancer cells, and chemotherapy to kill cancer cells throughout the body. The specific treatment plan will depend on the stage of the cancer and the overall health of the patient.
Surgery: For early stage cervical cancer, surgery to remove the cancerous tissue may be sufficient. This may involve a cone biopsy, in which a cone-shaped piece of tissue is removed from the cervix, or a hysterectomy, in which the uterus is removed.
Radiation therapy: This may be recommended for more advanced cases of cervical cancer, or as a follow-up treatment after surgery. This may involve external beam radiation, in which a machine delivers radiation to the cancerous area, or brachytherapy, in which a small radioactive implant is placed inside the vagina near the cancerous tissue.
Chemotherapy: This can also be used to treat cervical cancer, either alone or in combination with other treatments. This involves the use of drugs to kill cancer cells, which may be given orally or injected into a vein.
It is important for women to be aware of the signs and symptoms of cervical cancer, and to take steps to reduce their risk of developing the disease. This includes getting vaccinated against HPV, practising safe sex, and having regular Pap tests. If cervical cancer is detected early, it can often be successfully treated with surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy.
Authored by Dr Nitish Ranjan Acharya- Surgical Oncologist, HCG Panda Cancer hospital Cuttack.