Cervical cancer is considered as the second major cancer in women next to breast cancer. It is caused by HPV (Human Papilloma virus). The main cause of this cancer which killed Jade Goody was the lack of awareness and ways to prevent it.
What is cervical cancer?
It is the growth of cancerous cells at the cervix, the mouth of uterus. It starts as a pre-cancerous cell and would take years to develop fully to show out symptoms. If developed and untreated, it could spread to bladder, liver, intestine and lungs.
HPV is the main reason for the virus and it spreads through sexual intercourse. There are many strains of virus, only types 16 and 18 cause death. The rest cause genital warts. Some other risks are:
· Having sex at an early age
· Multiple sexual partners
· Weakened immune system
· Poor economic status(not able to get pap smear)
Early cervical cancer has no symptoms. Symptoms that may occur can include:
- Continuous vaginal discharge, which may be pale, watery, pink, brown, bloody, or foul-smelling
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding between periods, after intercourse, or after menopause
- Periods become heavier and last longer than usual
- Any bleeding after menopause
Symptoms of advanced cervical cancer may include:
- Anemia because of abnormal vaginal bleeding
- Weight loss
- Pelvic or back pain
- Heavy bleeding from the rectum or bladder
- Leaking of urine or feces from the vagina
Tests & Diagnosis:
Pap smear tests are done to study the cells from the cervix. If unavailable, visual identification can be done by staining to detect the abnormalities in cervix.
HPV test: The DNA cells of cervix are studied for cancerous growth. It is much accurate than Pap test. But this can be done only for women above thirty.
HPV vaccine: With girls getting sexually active early these days it is advisable to get them vaccinated at the age of 11-13. This Vaccine is effective only if administered before first sexual intercourse. It is administered as three doses, each costing around
Delay intercourse:Another way is to stay safe from intercourse and wait till you get married.
Sexual partners: Use of condoms can reduce the risk of infection. Having less number of sexual partners also can prevent from other STDs
Regular pap test: Pap test is recommended for women who become sexually active at young age. This cancer is common among women aged between 30-45. So it is better women go for pap test annually or once in five years after first negative test.
Prevention is better than cure. Let us know about the disease, prevent and fight back.
Source: Times of India, Google Health.