Cervical cancer affects the cervix or the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. According to WHO 2020 data, this is the fourth most common type of cancer. Abnormal or uncontrolled growth of the cervix can lead to cervical cancer. Surprisingly, cancer grows slowly and cures if detected early. If not detected, it may spread to other organs or parts of the body. Therefore, early detection is the key.
There are many risk factors associated with cervical cancer. You may have heard of HPV or human papillomavirus is a common cause of this cancer. It contributes to most cervical cancers. In many cases, people without risk factors do not get this cancer. On the other hand, even if you have one or more risk factors, you will not get this cancer. In fact, people without risk factors can develop this disease.
When discussing risk factors, you should focus only on those that you can control or avoid. Such factors could be your habits, for example, HPV or smoking. On the other hand, there is not much you can do about other risk factors such as age. Therefore, you should not focus too much on these factors.
Some common symptoms of cervical cancer
If cervical cancer is in the early stages, there are no symptoms. If cancer has spread a little to tissues or other parts of the body, symptoms include the following:
- Excessive vaginal bleeding – May bleed after sexual intercourse or menopause, during menstrual bleeding, non-menstrual bleeding, or after showering and pelvic examination.
- Menstruation may last longer than usual.
- Pain after sex
- Lose weight without trying
HPV (Human Papillomavirus)
HPV plays a role in many cancers, including cervical cancer. There are more than 150 species of this virus. Not all of them carry the risk of developing this cancer. Some of these HPVs can cause infections. It causes a type of growth known as papilloma or warts.
HPV can also infect skin cells, including areas such as the genitals, anus, mouth, and throat, but not the internal organs. Contact with the skin can infect one person to another. One such method is sexual activity such as the vagina, anus, and oral sex. These viruses can cause warts on various parts of the body, such as the hands and feet, as well as the lips and tongue. Some viruses can cause warts near the genitals and anus. These types of viruses are rarely associated with cervical cancer and are therefore considered low-risk types of HPV.
HPVs that cause cervical cancer include HPV16 and HPV18. These are at high risk and are closely associated with cancers such as cervical cancer, vulvar cancer, and vaginal cancer. They also contribute to cancers such as cancer of the anus, mouth, and throat of men. These cancers can also occur in women. Other strains of these viruses, such as HPV6 and HPV11, are at low risk and are genital hands, or lips.
Risk factors for HPV infections
Multiple sexual partners
If someone has multiple sexual partners, there is an increased risk of getting HPV. Since HPV is a sexually transmitted disease, it increases the risk of this disease.
Multiple pregnancies and pregnancies at a young age
Having three or more pregnancies at maturity may increase your risk of developing cervical cancer. I don’t know the exact reason, but it could be due to hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy. Changes in these hormones can increase the risk of HPV infection.
Social and economic factors
Social and economic factors can also play a role in this situation. Many people in this state belong to the lower socio-economic class. Menstrual hygiene may not be available. So you are prone to HPV infections leading to cervical cancer. Timely screening helps detect it in the early stages. However, low-income earners can undergo such screening tests.
Other cancers caused by HPV
Long-term high-risk HPV infections can cause cancer in parts of the body where HPV enters cells, such as the cervix, and oropharynx (the part of the pharynx at the back of the mouth, behind the oral cavity) and includes the tongue, the soft palate, the lateral and posterior walls of the pharynx and tonsils), the anus, the penis, the vagina, and the vulva.
HPV is one of the reasons for cervical cancers. So, you should get vaccinated against this virus before starting your sex life. Vaccination is the best way to prevent any kinds of HPV infections. But it works only if you are vaccinated before becoming sexually active. If you have not taken vaccination, you can reduce the chances of this infection by practicing safe sex and limiting the number of sexual partners.
This vaccine is recommended for boys and girls from the age of 11 or 12. Even a kid of 9 can get this vaccine. You can take this vaccine till the age of 26. The ones who are between 27 and 45 who didn’t receive this vaccine, can take this vaccination. These age groups are less likely to get the benefits from this vaccine. It is because they may be already exposed to this virus.
Screening for HPV:
Screening tests can detect this cancer when there are no symptoms. The goal of cervical cancer screening is to detect changes in precancerous cells early before they become cancer and when treatment can prevent this disease from occurring.
Cervical cancer screening tests include the HPV test for high-risk HPV of cervical cells, the Pap test for changes in cervical cells that can be caused by high-risk HPV, and the HPV / Pap joint test. It is included. Check for both high-risk HPV HPV and changes in cervical cells.