Cervical cancer: Causes, risk factors, symptoms, diagnosis, prevention tips
Cervical cancer happens in cervix cells, the lower part of uterus that connects to vagina but are you aware how various strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) gets transmitted? Here's all you need to know about the causes, risk factors, symptoms, diagnosis and prevention tips of cervical cancer
Cervical cancer is commonly seen in women but do you know that it is possible to detect this cancer and seek prompt medical attention? It is important to be aware about the investigations that are carried out to tackle this cancer and don’t forget to take treatment without any delay.
About one in every five, or 21 per cent, cases of cervical cancer are reported from India, according to a study published in the journal The Lancet Global Health. It also notes that of the deaths that occur due to this type of cancer, 23 percent of that is almost one in every four deaths that take place in India.
The study relied on the global 2020 database of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a part of the World Health Organization (WHO), according to which there were over 6 lakh new cases of cervical cancer and over 3.4 lakh deaths worldwide in 2020. Cervical cancer happens in the cervix cells, the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Sunita Dube, Radiologist and Founder of MedscapeIndia, Aryan Hospital, explained, “Various strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection, can lead to cervical cancer. Moreover, Cervical cancer is a major health problem in India that is seen in a majority of women. Currently, the cases of cervical cancer are rising at a rapid rate in the country. It is a sexually transmitted viral disease that happens due to the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Likewise, poor genital hygiene, early age at first sexual intercourse, family history, multiple sexual partners, and unprotected sexual exposure are also the culprits behind the occurrence of this cancer. The two types of cervical cancer are Squamous cell carcinoma and Adenocarcinoma. Furthermore, we tell you about the symptoms.”
Talking about the symptoms of cervical cancer, Dr Sunita Dube said, “Normally, there are no early symptoms of this cancer. One with this type of cancer will exhibit symptoms mostly in stage 2 like as blood spots or light bleeding between or following periods or post-menopausal spotting, unexplained bleeding will be shocked to know that menstrual bleeding which is longer and heavier than usual, painful intercourse, pain in the pelvic region, blood in the urine, and problems urinating or having a bowel movement. One should speak to the doctor after spotting these symptoms.”
Highlighting the risk factors, she said, “Having many sexual partners, early sex, a weak immune system, and smoking can cause cervical cancer.” As for the diagnosis, the health expert revealed, “The doctor will screen you for cervical cancer during your regular gynaecological exams by doing a Pap smear and a human papillomavirus (HPV) test. A Pap test can help to identify abnormal cells in the cervix, along with cancer cells and cells that show changes that raise the chances of cervical cancer. The HPV DNA test also means the cells collected from the cervix for infection with any of the types of HPV that can invite cervical cancer.”
She added, “To check the stage of this cancer, the doctor will advise you to do an X-ray, CT, MRI, and positron emission tomography (PET) to see if cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Blood test C125 blood markers are done for this cancer. Not only this, the doctor will do a visual examination of the bladder and rectum to confirm the diagnosis of this cancer biopsy, Pelvic Sonography is another option for the diagnosis of cervical cancer. A colposcopy can be done wherein the colposcope (that is a lighted magnifying instrument) helps to look out for the vulva, vagina, and cervix. LBC for HPV testing and colposcopy can also help in the detection of cervical cancer.”
Suggesting some prevention tips, she insisted, “It is essential to follow the instructions given by the doctor only after the diagnosis of cervical cancer. Your doctor will determine the right kind of treatment for you based on the symptoms and stage. You will have to quit smoking to cut down the risk of cervical cancer, go for regular Pap tests, lifestyle modifications including diet, and exercise, and ask the expert about the HPV vaccine to prevent cervical cancer.”