Cervical Cancer : As we all know, cervix is an organ that connects the uterus and vagina. And cervical cancer is a condition in which some abnormal cells in your cervix starts growing out of control, added with infection of a virus called human papillomavirus, or HPV. But however, not all types of HPV cause this. People can be infected with this virus by having sexual contacts with someone who already has it. It does not always lead to cancer. In most cases, this virus just go away on its own. It can be treated if found in an early stage (there are four stages of this type of cancer) through Pap test. A pap test helps to determine whether or not there are changes in your cervical cells. If cancer cells are present, immediate treatments will be done. The signs of cervical cancer can be very unlikely, and is seldom shown in early stages as it is a slow growing cancer. But here are few common cervical cancer symptoms.
Warnings and Symptoms of Cervical Cancer
The symptoms and signs may include :
- Abnormal bleeding from the vagina, such as bleeding in between menstrual periods, after menopause or after sex.
- Pain in the lower belly or pelvis.
- Pain during an intercourse.
- Abnormal vaginal discharge.
- Changes in your menstrual cycle.
Following are advanced symptoms :
- Anemia due to abnormal vagina bleeding.
- Pain in your pelvis, leg and lower back.
- Urinary problems if blockage in kidney or ureter is present.
- Weight loss
- Hair loss (only due to chemotherapy).
- Loss of appetite.
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Causes Of Cervical Cancer
It is natural to wonder what may have triggered it when you get a diagnosis of CC. Truth is, no experts can identify why one woman develop this cancer and the other doesn’t. What really contributes to its symptoms too is not known. (HPV virus can be one of the direct causes of cervical cancer) But however, there are some risk factors that may increase the likeliness of one developing cervical cancer :
- Smoking – women who smoke are twice more likely to develop this deadly cancer than women who don’t.
- Weakened immune system – this is normally a result of taking certain type of medications, such as immunosuppressants (used to stop the body from rejecting donated organs).
- Taking oral contraceptive pills for more than five years.
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Cervical Cancer Treatments
The treatment may vary depending on how far the cancer has spread. Your doctor may recommend the treatments that they think are the best for you, but the final decision will be yours. You can choose the way you want it to be treated. Here are three most common and effective treatments:
There are three main types of surgery for cervical cancer (CC) :
- Radical Trachelectomy – removal of the cervix, surrounding tissues and the upper part of the vagina, but the womb is not removed.
- Hysterectomy – removal of the cervix and the womb, removal of fallopian tubes and ovaries if necessary.
- Pelvic exenteration – removal of cervix, vagina, womb, bladder, ovaries, fallopian tube and also rectum.
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Radiotherapy may be delivered on its own or combined with surgery to treat CC at early stage. If the cancer has advanced, it will be combined with chemotherapy, where it can be helpful in controlling bleeding and pain. The radiotherapy is delivered in two ways:
- Internally – a radioactive implant will be placed inside your vagina and cervix.
- Externally – radioactive waves will be directed into your pelvis to destroy the cancerous cells.
Radiotherapy however may trigger some side effects such as diarrhea, fatigue, nausea, pain when urinating, infertility or sore skin in your pelvis that looks like sunburn.
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As we all are aware, chemotherapy will be only used for advanced cancer. It can be also combined with radiotherapy to improve the symptoms. The medications used kill the cancerous cells can trigger side effects such as:
- Feeling sick
- Nausea and vomiting
- Moth ulcers
- Loss of appetite
- Hair loss ( not all chemo medications will cause this, but if occurred, hair will grow back within three to six months)
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Prevention Of Cervical Cancer
How to directly prevent cervical cancer is not known, but here are few ways that can help you keep the risk of developing it low.
1. Safer sex
CC is associated with the infection of HPV virus and this virus can spread through and unprotected sex. Hence, using a condo will help you reduce the risk of developing this infection.
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2. Cervical screening
Always go for regular cervical screening. It can identify any abnormal changes that occur to the cervical cells at an early stage. It is advisable for women aged between 25-49 years to go for a screening every three years. While women who are 50-64 years old would go for it every five years. Make sure to go for a smear test even if you have been vaccinated for HPV as the vaccine does not guarantee any protection against CC.
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3. Cervical cancer vaccination
The HPV vaccination is important because it protects against the two strains of virus that are associated with development of CC. Vaccine will be given to girls aged between 12 to 19 years old, with three doses given over a period of six months.
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4. Quit smoking
Smoking increases the likeliness of getting any type of cancers. Hence it is advisable for you to quit smoking to reduce the risks of developing cancer.
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These are all the information that we know regarding CC. Always remember to go for a Pap test on regular basis to help detect cervical cancer early symptoms. If there are any other information regarding cervical cancer symptoms or treatments that you know, do share them with us.