What is cervical cancer?
It is the cancer of the cervix which is the lower part of a woman’s uterus. It develops when abnormal cells in the lining of the cervix multiply and form pre-cancerous lesions.If undetected, these lesions can go on to develop into tumours that affect the surrounding tissues and organs. [Source]
Cause of cervical cancer:
The exact cause is not known but in most cases, it is related to an infection with the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), a common virus that affects both males and females. However, most types of HPV are harmless and do not cause any symptoms. HPV types 16 and 18 are the high risk viruses which cause the pre-cancerous or cancerous cells. The low risk ones may cause warts which are treatable. [Source]
- In Australia, over 700 new cases are diagnosed each year. [Source]
- In Australia, over 200 women die of cervical cancer each year. [Source]
- About 1 in 163 women are at risk of being diagnosed with the cancer by the age of 85. [Source]
- Deaths have halved (in Australia) since the advent of national screening processes for cervical cancer. [Source]
Treatment for cervical cancer:
Cervical cancer can be treated if detected early. In cases where the tumour is small, a cone biopsy may be enough [Source]. In other cases, it involves surgery including an hysterectomy and/or radiotherapy depending on the size of the tumour. Hence, the best thing to do would be prevention. [Source]
- A vaccination has been developed that prevents the most common HPV viruses. Girls from the age of 12 are recommended to be vaccinated. [Source]
- Regular pap smears (every two years) are recommended for women aged 18 and above or those who are younger but sexually active. [Source]
- Use barrier contraceptions and limit the number of sexual partners [Source]
- Stop smoking [Source]
I guess to sum it all up, get the HPV vaccination if you can. And even after getting it, don’t forget to get your regular pap smears. A little bit of discomfort can go a long way in helping with early detection.
Prevention is always better than cure.
Until next time,