Cervical Cancer and
Cervical cancer is when there are malignant cells present in the cervix; it is developed in the lining of the cervix. A cervix is a narrow opening located at the bottom of the uterus that leads into the vagina. Cervical cancer mostly affects women between the ages of 40 and 55. This cancer can be prevented by screening for precancerous cells, and it can also be cured if it is detected at an early stage. Over the past few decades the number of cervical cancer cases has declined dramatically due to a more widespread screening of the disease. Today, it is estimated that 10,000 new cases of cervical cancer are discovered annually in the United States. Also, the American Cancer Society estimates that about 3,700 women die each year from this disease. Cervical cancer is the second most common in women worldwide, and it is the leading cause in cancer related deaths among women in underdeveloped countries. Worldwide, there is an estimated 500,000 new cervical cancer cases each year. Before cancer develops, the cells of the cervix become abnormal, and that is known as dysplasia. Abnormal cell changes of the cervix can be detected through a test known as a Pap smear, and if left untreated, some types of cervical dysplasia can lead to cancer. On the other hand, dysplasia is very treatable. In most cases, cervical cancer develops slowly over a period of years. CAUSES AND RISK FACTORS FOR CERVICAL CANCER:
The cause of cervical cancer is unknown, but the major risk factor for it is an infection with human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a group of viruses, and it is spread through sexual intercourse. The risks that increase the chances of a woman being infected with HPV are having multiple sexual partners, or having sex with a partner who has had multiple partners, having a history of sexually transmitted infections (STI’s), and having sexual intercourse at a young age. Even though HPV infections are common and rarely lead to cancer, medical researchers believe that other factors are involved in the development of cervical cancer. Repeated or constant HPV infections raise the chances of developing the cancer. Precancerous cell changes of the cervix are more common among women who become infected with more than one type of HPV. Moreover, women who smoke cigarettes are twice as likely to develop cervical cancer than those women who don’t smoke. Other risk factors include race, the cancer is less likely to develop in women younger than 15, and race, Hispanic, African Americans, and Native Americans have a higher risk of developing cancer. Having a weak immune system due to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) also increase the risk for developing cervical cancer. Of course, there are those women who have a high risk of having cervical cancer due to a history of cervical cancer among the women in their family. SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS:
Early cervical cancer often does not produce any symptoms. With women who regularly have screenings, the first sign is an abnormal Pap test result. Some symptoms of cervical cancer are abnormal vaginal bleeding, abnormal vaginal discharge, lower back pain, pain during sexual intercourse, and painful urination. Cervical cancer that has spread to other organs may cause constipation, blood in the urine, abnormal opening in the cervix, and blockage in the tube that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder. DIAGNOSIS:
The best tool for diagnosing abnormal cervix cell changes and cervical cancer is the Pap smear, named after its developer, George N. Papanicolaou. It is recommended for women to have annual Pap smears at the age of 18, or when they start having sexual intercourse. The Pap smear is a simple test where cells are removed from the outermost layer of the cervix with a spatula, cotton swab, or a brush. The cells are then examined...
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