January is the month to raise awareness of the serious illness cervical cancer. It’s one more reason to pay attention to this global health problem that it becomes a nightmare for about 500,000 new women each year.
WHAT IS CANCER OF THE CERVIX?
Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers affecting the female reproductive organs. After breast cancer, it is the second most common cause of cancer death in women.
Cancer of the cervix occupies the lowest part of the uterus, which is also called the cervix. The cervix connects the vagina to the uterus or womb. Cancer occurs when abnormal cells in the cervix grow out of control.
Fortunately, if detected early, this type of cancer in most cases can be cured. The most efficient way for early detection of this terrible disease is regular monitoring and Pap tests. Thanks to raising awareness of women and Pap (Papanicolaou) test, the death rate from cancer of the cervix declined significantly in the last 50 years.
The earliest stages of cervical cancer are asymptomatic, i.e. do not appear any symptoms. This fact once again confirms the importance of regular checks for early detection and prevention of the development of the disease.
But if the cancer begins to develop, may occur following symptoms:
- Bleeding from the vagina between two menses;
- Bleeding and pain during sexual intercourse;
- Bleeding after menopause;
- Pain in the lower part of the abdomen;
- Enhanced vaginal discharge with a strong odor, which may contain traces of blood;
- Complete weakening of the body.
If you notice any of these symptoms should immediately conclude that you have cancer. Some of these symptoms may occur as a result of infection or a sexually transmitted disease. But in any case you should visit a gynecologist to make the necessary examination and testing.
REASONS FOR THE OCCURRENCE
The most common cause of cancer of the cervix is considered HPV (human papilloma virus) virus. This virus is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the world. HPV is isolated in 99.7% of all cancers of the cervix.
There are over 100 types of the virus, but not all types cause cancer. Types are high (HPV 16, 18, 31, 33, 45) and low risk (HPV 6, 11, 40, 44). Only HPV 16 cause about 50% of all cancers, HPV16 and HPV together with 18-70% of cases of cancer of the cervix.
You can have the virus for many years and never find out about it. But it can and stay in the body after many years to cause cancer. It is therefore very important to make regular controls.
Although most cases of cervical cancer can be said that HPV is a major cause, however there are other factors that increase the risk of this disease.
The following factors contribute to increased risk of cancer of the cervix:
- Many sexual partners. The bigger the number of sexual partners, the greater the likelihood that any of them has the virus HPV.
- Early sexual relations. Sexual relations 18 years ago to increase the risk of contracting HPV. Immature cells are more prone to changes that can be caused by HPV.
- Other sexually transmitted diseases. If you have other STD s like chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis or AIDS, chances are you have in yourself and HPV virus.
- Smoking. No established a precise link between cervical cancer and smoking, but it is known that tobacco increases the chances of cancer. Smoking and HPV can work against you as allies.
Weak immune system. Most women who have HPV do not have any problems with the virus and carry with them without knowing. It does not appear cancer. But if women who have HPV weaken the immune system, the body no longer fights the virus. This increases the risk of cancer of the cervix.
PAP TEST – THE BEST PROTECTION
Early diagnosis of cervical cancer is particularly important for treatment that saves lives. Every woman needs to act to visit a gynecologist at least once a year to implement the Pap test, colposcopy and ultrasound. For women who are determined that there is an abnormal change in the cells of the cervix it is recommended to visit a gynecologist frequently.
The Pap test is painless. Some women find it a little uncomfortable. Through this test, except that you can find out whether the presence of HPV infection and whether there is any change in the cells of the cervix, can be determined and hormonal status of women and the existence of other vaginal infections. Regular taking swabs helps in early detection of abnormalities in the cells of the cervix, which can lead to the development of cancer.
Other ways to protect yourself from this disease:
- Condom use – thus reducing the chances of contracting HPV, although condoms does not prevent transmission of HPV;
- Delay of first sexual intercourse
- Having a smaller number of sexual partners
- Smoking cessation
- Vaccination against HPV – vaccine protects against the most dangerous types of HPV. It is most effective in girls who by the time of receiving the vaccine did not have sex.
Inform yourself and not avoid the tests save lives!!