Cervical Cancer: Causes And Identification - All You Need To Know
Cervical cancer is gynecological cancer that happens in the cervix cells. Cancer is a disease characterized by the uncontrollable multiplication and division of cells. Evey woman is at risk of developing cervical cancer.
Although many risk factors are associated with cervical cancer, the primary cause of cervical cancer is the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which is transmitted through sexual contact. Also, women at below poverty level are at risk of developing cervical cancer as they cannot have access to healthcare facilities like screening, treatment, etc.
When screened, treated, and managed effectively in its earlier stages, cervical cancer is one of the most treatable cancers. Even in its advanced stages, cervical cancer can be controlled with appropriate treatment and care.
Here’s an insight into cervical cancer screening and its causes.
What Causes Cervical Cancer?
Human Papillomavirus (HPV):
Among all the risk factors, the primary cause of cervical cancer is the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). HPV infection is most commonly transmitted sexually. More than 100 different types of the Human Papillomavirus exist, among which only a few are linked with cervical cancer. They are:
- HPV 16
- HPV 18
- HPV 31
- HPV 33
- HPV 45
Out of all the mentioned types, HPV 16 AND HPV 18 cause most cervical cancers. However, they are preventable by vaccination.
Being infected by HPV doesn’t always imply that you’ll end up with cervical cancer since the body’s immune system fights the infection and eliminates it within two years.
Risk Factors Associated With Cervical Cancer
The various risk factors that are associated with cervical cancer are:
- Smoking: Smoking and secondhand smoke exposure increase the risk of cervical cancer. Nicotine generally suppresses the immune system and also damages DNA.
- Weakened Immunity: Immune system plays a vital role in fighting and destroying cancer cells, thereby lessening their growth. A weakened immunity increases the risk of developing cervical cancer.
- Immunosuppressants: Drugs taken to treat an autoimmune disease also increase the risk of getting cervical cancer.
- Use of Birth Control Pills: Women taking oral contraceptives for longer terms are also at significant risk of developing cervical cancer.
- Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD): STDs like gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, etc., are also risk factors associated with cervical cancer.
- Dietary choices: Poor dietary choices also increase the risk of cervical cancer. A healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, etc., is essential to build our immune system..
- Family history: Having a family history of this condition also contribute as a risk factor for cervical cancer
Cervical Cancer Screening
In its early stages, cervical cancer shows no symptoms, so it becomes essential to perform the identification tests. These cervical cancer tests are used to screen the presence of any precancerous cells that might progress into cancer.
Learn More About Screening Methods For Cervical Cancer
- Physical examination and medical history assessment: The doctor performs a thorough body checkup and studies the family’s medical history to assess the risk factors or symptoms associated with cervical cancer.
- Pap test: In this test, cells of the cervix are scraped by a doctor and examined for any abnormal changes. It helps in identifying the precancerous cells that may develop into cancer.
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) typing test: In an HPV test, the doctor examines the cells of the cervix for the presence of infection due to the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) that might lead to cervical cancer.
- Colposcopy: When the Pap test results show the presence of abnormal cells and the HPV test comes out positive, the doctor will perform a colposcopy. Colposcopy is a procedure done using a unique instrument called a colposcope. A colposcope is used to magnify the cervical and vaginal cells, thereby giving the doctor a better look at the cervix and vagina. It is a safe procedure with no side effects and can also be performed on pregnant women.
Treatment Without Prevention Is Simply Unsustainable
Though it is treatable when detected early cervical cancer can still take a huge toll on the health. Simple measures of preventing the risk factors like eliminating smoking, healthy lifestyle choices, and having protected sex can be practiced regularly. However, the most effective preventive measure is vaccination.
Getting vaccinated for HPV (Human Papillomavirus) is extremely important as it prevents the chances of developing cervical cancer and reduces the risk of developing various cancers like vulvar cancer, vaginal cancer, oropharyngeal cancer, penile cancer, and anal cancer.