Remember the famous saying, “An ounce is worth a pound of medicine”? This old age saying is actually true of cervical cancer, a leading cause of cancer deaths in women. By the time the symptoms develop and women realize they are sick, it is usually too late. While regular checking can ensure a cervical cancer-free future, fighting it can lead to both physical and emotional experiences.
According to the Cervical Cancer Free Alliance, a preventable disease, cervical cancer kills more women in India than anywhere else in the world, affecting 1, 32,000 women every year and 72,000 women lose their battle with it.
Most common in women over the age of 30, cervical cancer affects the uterine cervix, part of a woman’s reproductive system. The cervix is a passage that connects the lower part of a woman’s uterus (womb) to the vagina. Cancer begins in cells, which are building blocks that make up tissues. Normal cervical cells grow and divide into the tissues of the cervix to form new cells, as needed by the body. These cells have a definite lifespan.
When normal cells age or are damaged, they die, and new cells take their place. Sometimes this process goes wrong and new cells form when the body does not need them, and old cells do not get damaged or damaged, as they should. The mass of these extra cells often forms a tissue mass called a tumor.
Scientists are not entirely sure why cells become cancerous. However, there are a number of risk factors, which are known to increase the risk of developing cervical cancer. Human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted virus, is responsible for approximately 99% of all cervical cancers. There are more than 100 different types of HPV, most of which are thought to be low risk and not caused by cervical cancer. High-risk HPV types can cause cervical cell abnormalities or cancer. More than 70 percent of cervical cancer cases can be attributed to two types of the virus, HPV-16 and HPV-18, often referred to as high-risk HPV types.
Other risk factors include, multiple sexual partners, early sexual activity, smoking, and people with a weakened immune system, such as those living with HIV / AIDS or transplant recipients of immunosuppressive medications. immune. Certain genetic factors, giving birth at a very young age, multiple pregnancies, long-term use of the contraceptive pill raises a woman’s risk of developing cervical cancer.
Being a silent killer, the symptoms of cervical cancer are not always obvious and may not cause any symptoms until it has reached an advanced stage, when it is less likely to survive and the expensive treatment. Regular screening is essential to combat this cancer before it spreads.
In most cases, the symptoms develop when the cancer is invasive and spreads to nearby tissues. When this happens the most common symptom is abnormal vaginal bleeding or bleeding between periods. Other symptoms include bleeding after sex, pain during intercourse, abnormal vaginal discharge, leg pain and swelling and low back pain.
If diagnosed early, treatment can be done by surgically removing the uterus. Radiotherapy is an alternative to surgery for some. In some cases it is used in combination with surgery. Higher cases of cervical cancer are usually treated using a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Get vaccinated against HPV
Vaccines have been developed to prevent infection with some types of HPV associated with cervical cancer. The currently available vaccines are intended to provide immunity to types 16 and 18 of HPV, so that women exposed to these viruses do not develop infections.
Reduce the risk through regular checks
Smear Pap Test
Pap smears are a quick, painless test used to detect early cell changes in cervical cells, which may later progress to cancer. Cells from the cervix are scraped and used as an example for pathological analysis. A coloscope or biopsy confirms a positive result for abnormal cells.
A simple vinegar test
With this test – called VIA, for visual inspection with acetic acid – sterile diluted vinegar is placed on a cotton swab and rubbed on the cervix. After one minute, normal tissue stays the same color – but cancerous tissue turns white. All you need is a lamp to see it.