NEED TO KNOW ON CERVICAL CANCERNovember 6, 2020
Cervical cancer is cancer cells found in the lower part of the uterus connecting to the vagina, the cervix. Cervical cancer needs to be campaigned as women need to be advised on prevention of cervical cancer, the risk factors, and the types of treatment once can choose from depending on the cancer stage. This article will highlight an in-depth definition of cervical cancer, symptoms, causes/risks, treatment and the importance of raising awareness on cervical cancer.
Image sourced: www.who.int.co.za
According to MayoClinic, cervical cancer is cancer cells found in women in the cervix. cancer.net explains that cervical cancer starts with healthy cells that form a tumor in the cervix which could contain cancer cells. There are two types of cervical cancer:
- Squamous cancer- this is cancer cells that surround the cervix and they make up 80%-90% of the cervical cancers.
- Adenocarcinoma – these are the cancer cells that start in the glands which outline the lower birth canal.
Generally, women do not show symptoms of cervical cancer. However, should they have pains that do not go away, they are then encouraged to test for cervical cancer. Symptoms can include:
- Blood spots or light bleeding between or following periods
- Menstrual bleeding that is longer and heavier than usual
- Bleeding after intercourse, douching, or a pelvic examination
- Increased vaginal discharge
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Bleeding after menopause
- Unexplained, persistent pelvic and/or back pain
Cervical cancer is usually prompted by lifestyle choices, certain medication, etc. Risk factors include but not limited to:
- Immune system deficiency. Women with a weak immune system because of medication, previous treatment, or HIV/AIDS are prone to cervical cancer.
- Women who smoke are about twice as likely to develop cervical cancer as women who do not smoke.
- Age. People in their late teens/ early thirties are prone to have cervical cancer. Women past this age group remain at risk and need to have regular screenings including pap-tests/HPV tests.
Cervical cancer is a serious condition, and after diagnosis, treatment starts. Treatment for cervical cancer depends solely on the cancer staged and the overall health of the individual. For this reason, treatment of cervical cancer has many different options.
- Surgery – this is when the tumour is removed.
- Radiation therapy- this is when high energy x-rays or particles are used to destroy the cells. Doctors who perform this are called Radiation Oncologists, and this procedure can be done before surgery or instead of surgery to reduce the size of the tumour.
- Therapies using medication like chemotherapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy.
Like all treatments, medications and medical conditions, cervical cancer as well as the treatments has side effects. These include but not limited to:
- Palliative care – this focuses on your well-being during treatment. How it affects you emotionally, your thoughts on the treatment, etc.
- Targeted therapy- this treatment targets cancer specific genes. This stops the growth of cancer cells and the spread while not affecting the healthy cells.
Cervical cancer is a serious illness that people need to be aware of. The risk factors/ dangers of cervical cancer need to be campaigned so that women can avoid increasing the chances of developing cervical cancer. The need to campaign cervical cancer also encourages those that are going through treatment, to persevere and look forward to a bright future.
Image sourced: https://cytecare.com/blog/cervical-cancer-prevention-and-screening/