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Cervical Cancer: Everything You Need to Know About

Cervical Cancer

Cervical Cancer - (Image Credit: Shutterstock)

30-Second-Summary
  • No woman wants to hear the unwelcome news, “You have cervical cancer.” It just sounds like a death sentence – so final. Fortunately, cervical cancer treatment is successful. This type of cancer is viewed by many doctors as curable – particularly when detected early.
  • Early detection is the key to getting a positive outcome so that you can look forward to a good quality of life.
  • Having a pap smear every year and HPV testing every few years will help detect cervical cancer in the pre-cancer stages. That’s when treatment is most effective.
  • There are 2 types of cervical cancer.
  • There are treatment options you may consider for all stages of cervical cancer.
  • Medical intervention will depend on how early you get diagnosed, as there are a few stages to cervical cancer.
  • If you are already in the later stages, cervical cancer treatment could be difficult.
  • Following the right rules for cervical cancer detection, proper diet, and treatment is empirical. This will prevent you from being one of the 14,400 cases that the American Cancer Society predicts will be diagnosed this year.

Introduction

There is no doubt that hearing your doctor tell you that you have all the symptoms of cervical cancer can be pretty daunting news to receive. It feels like the end of the world and the road. The thing is, cancer can start anywhere in your body.

But cervical cancer, as the name says, develops in the cervix. Cells have grown out of control, overtaking the normal cells and making the body unable to work normally as it should.

Cervical cancer causes are linked to a virus called HPV virus (human papillomavirus) transmitted through sexual contact. From your cervix, it can spread to other parts of your body, like your lungs.

Where is your cervix? It’s the lower part of your uterus. It connects your uterus to the vagina that is your birth canal. By taking heed of your symptoms which we have described here, and having your pap-smear test, you are already increasing your chances of preventing it favorably.

What Is Cervical Cancer?

Cancer is always named where it starts in the body. So if cancer begins in the cervix, it is called cervical cancer. All women of the world are at risk of developing cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer causes emerge mostly in women over 30 years. If the infection is long-lasting with some of the types of HPV, that’s the primary cause of cervical cancer. This virus is passed from one person to another when they have sex.

Many will get the HPV virus, but not all will get cervical cancer. As long as it is discovered early, it can be well treated.

Do You Get Different Types Of Cervical Cancer?

Types of cervical cancer
There are two parts or two types of cervical cancer. One is called Squamous cell carcinoma, and the other is called adenocarcinoma.

When scientists look under a microscope, they will tell you if you have cervical cancer, and which group you fall under. It’s like this:

  • Squamous cell carcinomas – begin in the flat, thin cells found at the bottom of the cervix. This type of cancer accounts for around 90% of cervical cancer, and that’s according to the American Cancer Society.
  • Adenocarcinomas of the cervix – usually develop in the glandular cells. These cells line the top part of the cervix. If you haven’t got the above type, you will have this type.

However, both types come with the same symptoms of cervical cancer.

All Women Should Know What The Cervical Cancer Causes Are

Of late, there has been a lot of progress in finding out what happens in the above-mentioned cell types when they get cancerous. There are a few risk factors identified to increase the symptoms of cervical cancer.

Normal cell development depends a lot on the information that makes up the cells’ DNA – the chemicals in the cells that make up the genes. The genes are what control the working of the cells. This DNA is so important because it affects more than just the genes that were received from our parents when we were born, that makes us look similar to them.

As mentioned, the human papillomavirus (HPV) can lead to cancer. But this virus is not the only cause of cervical cancer. Many women with HPV don’t get cervical cancer. There are other risk factors, though, that cause women to be more likely to develop the 2 types of cervical cancer. These include:

  • Smoking
  • HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. It could be another health condition that makes it difficult for your body to build a strong immune system
  • When you use birth control pills for longer than five years
  • Having more than three children
  • Having a few sexual partners
  • When you have a deficiency of vitamin A. Decreased doses of vitamins A, C, and E are seen in both types of cervical cancer patients
  • Alcohol consumption

What Are The Symptoms Of Cervical Cancer?

Symptoms of cervical cancer
The signs and symptoms could be:

  • Changes in discharge or bleeding from the vagina or even bleeding after sex
  • If you have pain with sex
  • If menstrual bleeding is longer and heavier than usual
  • Vaginal discharge has increased
  • Bleeding after menopause
  • Unexplained back pain or pelvic pain

Unfortunately, maybe you have ignored the earlier symptoms of cervical cancer, such as the ones above, and cancer has become more advanced in your body. Then you might notice these symptoms.

Once again, unfortunately, it might mean that cancer has spread further to another part of your body, and you are in the advanced stages of cervical cancer.

These are the symptoms from more advanced cervical cancer:

  • Fatigue and you just don’t feel well
  • You have an annoying pain in your stomach
  • You are often bloated
  • You vomit a lot
  • You suffer from constipation

The above symptoms of cervical cancer might not mean that you have advanced cancer. They could be caused by other conditions. You should tell your doctor if you are worried about symptoms that are not going away and continue for longer than just a few days.

If your doctor does diagnose cervical cancer, relieving your symptoms will form a very important part of your treatment and care. Usually, it starts soon after your diagnosis and will continue throughout your cervical cancer treatment. You need to always keep your doctor updated about any changes in your symptoms.

What Are The Stages Of Cervical Cancer?

The different stages of cancer will describe how much cancer you have in your body and where it is after you have been diagnosed. Cancer progression will be determined from tests and exams to figure out the size of the tumor and how it is spreading in the body. Your doctor will use the different stages to plan your cervical cancer treatment to weigh the prognosis.

Doctors use the FIGO systems when it comes to cervical cancer, of which there are four stages. Usually, the stages are in Roman numbers, like Stage I, Stage II, Stage III, and Stage IV. The higher stage you are is about the disease being in a more advanced stage. Stage 0 is not part of the FIGO system[1], although, Stage 0 is usually the precancerous condition of the cervix[2].

Stages Of Cervical Cancer

Often doctors use these terms when they discuss cervical cancer:

  • The early stages of cervical cancer usually include 1A, 1B, and 2A.
  • The locally advanced cervical cancer stages usually include 2B, 3, and 4A.
  • The advanced stages of cervical cancer usually mean stage 4B.

It can sound pretty complicated but read about the different stages to gain more knowledge. Here, they give you a detailed description[3] of each of the stages of cervical cancer.

Types Of Cervical Cancer Treatment

Natural treatments

  • Chinese herbal treatment is highly regarded as a cervical cancer treatment. Natural herbs might be powerful
  • Acupuncture
  • The right food choices[4]

5 Types of Cervical Cancer Treatment

Your doctor might suggest:

  • Surgery – Surgery will remove cancer during an operation. These surgical procedures might be used:
    Conization[5]
    Hysterectomy[6]
  • Radiation therapy – A cervical cancer treatment that uses high-energy x-rays to kill cancer cells and prevent them from growing further.
  • Chemotherapy – This is a treatment that uses drugs to stop the cancer cells from growing.
  • Targeted therapy – A cervical cancer treatment employing drugs or substances that attack abnormal cells without damaging the healthy cells.
  • Immunotherapy – This treatment makes use of your immune system to fight cancer. Substances made in a lab or made by your body will be used to try and restore your body’s natural defenses against cancer.

Celebrate Cervical Cancer Awareness Month – January 2022

What you should do to celebrate your health is:

  • Get the HPV vaccine which is available until you are 26 because one hasn’t been developed yet for women over 26 years old
  • Go for routine screenings[7]. Following these screenings can help detect cancer at an early stage. This is when the disease is so treatable
  • Practice safe sex
  • Get help quitting smoking
  • Take in plenty of vitamin A in your diet

Get Ready For Cervical Cancer Prevention Week – 17-23 January 2022

Start to raise awareness on cervical screening cervical cancer causes, facts, and tips, letting others know they aren’t alone in this.

If there is a campaign near you, get involved by:

  • Using social media to talk about cervical screening and why it is so important
  • Make it an important discussion event and day at your workplace by displaying posters and making women aware
  • If you have a story to tell, you can share your personal experience to raise awareness

Conclusion

Cervical cancer develops in the cervix of a woman. Sometimes you might not believe you have cancer of the cervix; often there are no symptoms in the early stages.

If you do want to know what the most common symptom to look out for, it would most probably be unusual bleeding from the vagina. It can often occur in-between your periods, after sex, or even after menopause. This abnormal bleeding doesn’t mean you have cervical cancer, though. But if you have abnormal bleeding, you need to see your doctor straight away.

There are four stages of cervical cancer, and if you are diagnosed with it, you want to hear the doctor say early, and cancer has not advanced to the second, third, or fourth stage yet.

A lot of women with cervical cancer opt for a radical hysterectomy. It’s a major op that takes a long time to recover. Some other treatments can make you tired. Also, you’ll feel nauseous.

Cervical cancer causes, a few years back, used to have lower survival rates than the outcomes of today. If you have regular cervical cancer screenings and keep up to date with your doctor about the better treatments available to you, you can expect a much better survival rate today.

Cervical Cancer Awareness month is about awareness of preventing it, and also reducing its impact on everyone suffering from cervical cancer. This wonderful opportunity allows as many people as possible to realize that they can reduce their cervical cancer risk and educate others.

There have been many challenges with lots of difficulties and changes during the Covid-pandemic. But one thing hasn’t changed, and that is still making sure you get your Pap smear test so that you can encourage others to get theirs. Take care!

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