One of the most common cancers in women is cervical cancer. It used to be one of the most common causes of cancer death in women. It begins when healthy cells in the cervix develop changes in their DNA. The cell’s DNA gives instructions to the cell on what to do.
Cancer cells invade nearby tissue and can break off from a tumour to spread elsewhere in the body. It is not clear what causes cervical cancer, but it is sure that HPV plays a role. HPV is very common and people with the virus never develop cancer. Other factors such as environment or lifestyle choices determine whether you’d develop cancer.
There are two types of cervical cancer. They are
- Squamous cell carcinoma which starts in thin flat cells lining, the outer part of cervix which projects into vaginas.
- Adenocarcinoma starts in the column-shaped glandular cells that line the cervical cancer.
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The risk factors of HPV include:
Many sexual partners: the greater the number of sexual partners and the greater your partner’s number of sexual partners, the greater your chance of acquiring HPV.
Early sexual activity: when you have sex at early age, it increases the risk of HPV.
A weakened immune system: when your immune system is weakened by another health condition, it is likely you develop cervical cancer and you have HPV.
Smoking is associated with squamous cell cervical cancer.
Also, when you are exposed to miscarriage prevention drugs, you may have an increased risk of certain type of cervical cancer called clear cell adenocarcinoma.
The early stage of the cancer generally produces no symptoms. However, the signs and symptoms of more advanced cervical cancer are vaginal bleeding after sexual intercourse, watery bloody vaginal discharge that have foul odour and pelvic pain.
To reduce the risk of cervical cancer
Ask your doctor about the HPV vaccine
Receiving a vaccination to prevent HPV infection may reduce your risk of cervical cancer. You can also ask if the vaccine is appropriate for your body system.
Have a routine Pap tests
Pap test helps to detect precancerous conditions of the cervix. Medical organisations suggest beginning routine Pap test at the age of 21 and repeating them every few years.
Practical safe sex
This reduces risk of cervical cancer by taking measures to prevent sexually transmitted infections, such as using condom every time you have sex and limiting the number of sex partners.
If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, talk to your doctor about the ways to stop.