What is it?
Cervical cancer is a disease caused by the abnormal growth and division of cells that make up the cervix (the portion of the uterus attached to the top of the vagina). Ninety percent of the cervical cancers arise from the flattened or squamous cells covering the cervix. Most of the remaining 10% arise from the glandular, mucous-secreting cells of the cervical canal leading into the uterus.
What are the common terms associated?
What are the causes?
The development of cervical cancer is gradual and begins as a pre-cancerous condition called dysplasia. In this form it is 100% treatable, usually without the need for a hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus). Dysplasia, depending on its severity, can resolve without treatment, particularly in young women. However, it often progresses to actual cancer called ‘carcinoma in situ’ (CIS) if it has not spread, or ‘microinvasive’ if it has spread only a few millimeters into the surrounding tissue but not into the lymph channels or blood vessels.
The risk factors for cervical cancer are: Infection with the virus that causes genital warts (human papilloma virus or HPV) may increase the risk of developing dysplasia and subsequent cancer. Fortunately, not all women who have had HPV infection or genital warts develop cervical cancer. Other factors, such as smoking, may increase the risk of developing cervical cancer in those who have had HPV.
# Early age at first sexual intercourse
# Multiple sexual partners or partners who have multiple partners
There is a small increased risk of abnormal Pap smears among women who take birth control pills. It is because such women are more sexually active, are less likely to use condoms, and have more frequent Pap smears in order to be prescribed the birth control pill.
Women whose immune systems are weakened - such as those with HIV infection or women who have received organ transplants and are taking drugs to suppress the immune system - may be at a higher risk
Infections with genital herpes or chronic chlamydia infections, both sexually transmitted diseases, may increase risk
What are the symptoms?
Most often, cervical cancer in its earliest and most treatable stages does not cause any symptoms. When there are symptoms, the most common are:
# Abnormal vaginal bleeding, especially between menstrual periods, after intercourse or douching, and after menopause, which gradually becomes heavier and longer Symptoms of advanced cervical cancer may include: Loss of appetite, weight loss, fatigue.
# Pelvic, back, or leg pain
# Leaking of urine or faeces from the vagina
# Bone fracture