Cervical cancer is the second leading cancer to strike women worldwide. The key to lowering the statistics is making sure to get regular pap smears to ensure early detection. Let’s take a look at some of the answers to important questions:
How Does Cervical Cancer Start?
Some cervical cancers are a result of a tumor that forms in the cervix (the lower part of a woman’s uterus) gradually. Most cases of cervical cancer
are caused by high risk strains of a common sexually transmitted virus called the human papillomavirus (HPV). It can take up to 15 years for damaged cells to replicate to the point of cancer formation.
How Prevalent is Cervical Cancer?
Approximately 12,000 American women are diagnosed with cervical cancer annually. Undetected and untreated cervical cancer will cause approximately 4120 deaths this year
Are There Any Symptoms of Cervical Cancer?
Some cervical cancers are asymptomatic (they do not produce any obvious symptoms), which means it can be slowly growing in a person who isn’t getting the proper screenings to catch it. In some cases, symptoms may appear such as spotting (bleeding between cycles), vaginal discharge, spotting after menopause, pelvic pain during sex or at random times.
What Are the Risk Factors for Cervical Cancer?
What is the Prognosis?
- Women who have had many sexual partners
- Women who have high-risk strains of HPV
- Women who have HIV
- Women who have given birth multiple times are at greater risk of developing cervical cancer
- Women who have taken birth control pills for many years
- Smoking also greatly increases a woman’s risk of developing cervical cancer, among many other types of cancer.
- Fetal exposure to the medication diethylstilbestrol (DES) that was prescribed between 1938 and 1971 has been linked to later development of cervical cancer as well.
If the cancer is detected early, the 5-year survival rate is encouraging at 92%.
How is it Treated?
There are many treatments available for precancerous cells and cervical cancer, depending on the person and her individual case and overall health. Precancerous cells detected during a pap smear can be successfully eradicated with cauterization, laser surgery or cryosurgery
. This type of cancer has a high treatment/cure rate.
Can Cervical Cancer be Prevented?
Cervical cancer can be largely prevented with regular pap smears, screening and vaccination. As this cancer can grow silently for years, the bottom line to preventing more cases of (and deaths by) cervical cancer is to get screened regularly. Thanks for visiting EMC!