Cervical cancer is the second-most common cancer in women around the world. Cervical cancer can occur at all ages, but commonly seen in women between the ages of 30 and 45 years. Most cases of cervical cancer are due to a common sexually transmitted infection called human papilloma virus (HPV). The virus affects the cells cervix causingsome change and these changes can be picked up on screening such as Pap smear. If these changes are not identified and treated, then over a period of time they can turn into cancer. Cervical cancer is only cancer that can be prevented with vaccination and with a regular screening test.
Cervix, also known as the neck of the womb and is the lowermost part of the womb (uterus).
Cervix is a tubular structure and has two parts – ectocervix & endocervix. It also has two openings known as internal & external os/orifices.
The cells lining the ectocervix is known as Squamous epithelial cells and the cells lining then endocervix is known as glandular cells.
Cancer arising from the squamous epithelial cells is known as squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and cancer form glandular cells is known as adenocarcinoma.
1. It is caused by a simple viral infection called Human Papillomavirus infection (HPV), thereare many strains but in particular, HPV 16 and HPV 18, are found in over 99% of cervicalcancers. This is a common infection seen in the majority of sexually active women. This infection gets cleared on its own and doesn’t require any treatment. Sometimes this virus doesn’t clear from your body and can stay for a long duration of time and causes changes in the cervix and can eventually lead to cervical cancer.
2. Women with many sexual partners, or whose partners have had many partners, are more at risk of developing cervical cancer.
3. Women who started having sexual intercourse at a very early age.
4. Women with a history of sexually transmitted diseases.
5. Women who give birth at an early age.
6. Long term use of oral contraceptives increases the risk of developing cervical cancer (≥5-8 years), consult your
doctor when you are taking oral contraceptive pills.
7. Women who have low immunity (for example, those who are taking immunosuppressive drugs after kidney / liver
transplant or women who are HIV positive) may be at increased risk of developing cervical cancer.
8. Women who smoke are about twice more likely to develop cervical cancer than non-smokers. In particular, if you smoke and have HPV infection, the risk is greater, because smoking suppresses your
immune system allowing the persistence of HPV infection.
The biggest risk factor is non-attendance for cervical cancer screening.
1. In initial stages you may have no symptoms at all.
Bleeding between normal periods (intermenstrual bleeding).
Bleeding after having sex (postcoital bleeding).Bleeding after menopause (stopping of monthly menses for more than one year).
3. Sometimes an early symptom could be vaginal discharge that smells unpleasant and tinged with blood.
4. If cancer spreads to other parts of the body, various other symptoms can develop.