Cancer » Cervical Cancer
There are a few types of cancers, which are mainly gender-specific and originate in the organs related only to that specific gender. Cervical cancer is one such type of cancers. The disease occurs mainly in females and originates in the cervix. Cervix is the lower area of the uterus and connects to the vagina. It is also known as uterine cervix. Most of the cases of this disease are related to sexually transmitted infection and a virus called human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the major causes.
How the cancer originates?
Cervical cancer is a result of an uncontrolled growth and division of cells. The cancerous or the tumor cells start growing on the cervix's surface. These cells usually develop and spread gradually. They invade the live and healthy tissues and try to dominate the area by forming tumors. In the presence of these malignant or cancerous cells, these tissues are unable to perform their basic functions of supplying blood and oxygen. Insufficient supply of blood and oxygen affects the overall functioning of the organs and disturbs the co-ordination between various parts of the body.
The cancerous cells not only damage the tissues but also kill other live cells and form a lump of dead cells called tumor. The tumors also spread to other parts of the body through the lymph nodes or bloodstream and create another group of tumors in the areas they spread. The damage is irreversible and the only option to control them is to eliminate them by various treatments like the chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery.
Cervix is of two types as endocervix and exocervix. Endocervix is located very close to the uterus while the exocervix (also known as ectocervix) is located adjacent to the vagina. Glandular and squamous cells are a specific group of cells that cover the endocervix and exocervix respectively. The area where the above two types of cells meet is called as the transformation zone and most of the cervical cancers originate in this area. The cervix cancer can be of two main types as adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Adenocarcinoma develops in the endocervix while the squamous cell carcinoma develops in the exocervix. Almost ninety percent of the cervical cancer cases belong to squamous cell carcinoma.
The cancerous cells develop primarily in the lining of the cervix and later spread gradually. The cells are initially of pre-cancerous nature and are not that destructive. But if the disease is not detected in the early stages or the abnormalities in the vagina and adjacent areas are ignored, these cells may get cancerous and develop tumors. Most of the cervical cancer cases are detected very late as the symptoms are hard to detect. In many cases, the disease shows almost no symptoms until it progresses into an advanced stage. The causes and symptoms may vary form person to person.
How to make yourself safe?
Cervical cancer mainly originates due to an infection by the HPV. This virus is transmitted through unsafe sex or having multiple sex partners. Hence, you must have healthy and safe sexual relations. Poor immunity system makes you more prone to the disease as the body's resistance to infections is quite less. Healthy diet with regular inclusion of vegetables, fruits and salads is a must. Also, regular exercise will be advantageous in keeping you fit and healthy.
Smoking must be quit as it considerably decreases your body's ability to fight infections. HIV infected patients are more prone to the disease as infection damages the tissues and infects the body cells much easier as compared to a non-HIV person. Having an intercourse or getting pregnant at an early age, consumption of contraceptives in small age, family medical history and hormonal contraception are also some other risk factors in getting prone to the disease.
Cervical cancer is 100% curable if detected in the initial stages. The infected cells are pre-cancerous initially and take much time to develop into the cancerous ones. In some cases, the cells may even take years in transforming from pre-cancerous to cancerous stage. Hence, you have a lot of hopes in getting rid of the disease if you examine your body regularly. According to a study, the number of deaths related to the cervical cancer is consistently declining in some of the advanced nations like the United States. The main reason is the availability of reliable techniques to diagnose the disease right in its early stages. Pap test is the most common and reliable medical test to detect the disease. In this test, a thorough examination of the cells at the cervix is done for any abnormal changes in the cell behavior or cell pattern. Doing the Pap test regularly will benefit immensely in detecting and treating the pre-cancerous cells before they turn cancerous.
Various medical examinations like the biopsy, computed tomography scan (CT scan), magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI scan) and X-rays are available worldwide to examine your internal body thoroughly. Some of the advanced treatment techniques like chemical therapy radiation therapy and surgery are available to get rid of the disease partially or completely. The pattern of treatment may vary from person to person depending upon the intensity of the disease and the person's response to the treatment.
Abnormal bleeding from vagina is the most important symptom of the cervical cancer. If you are experiencing pains in your bladder or pain during urination, you must consult a physician. Any discharge from the vagina, which is unusual and frequent must be dealt with seriously. Unusual bleeding after menopause, sexual intercourse or during periods is another important indication of the cancer. Any other bleeding not concerned with the menstrual cycle should be examined thoroughly. Endocervical curettage, cystoscopy and intravenous pyelogram are some of the advanced tests you must undergo if any of the above symptoms are detected. The cancer is completely curable if proper diagnosis and timely treatment is done.