Cervical Cancer EASY as ABC

Cervical cancer image-766a6abc

Come closer if you want to know about cervical cancer in the simplest terms. The goal of this article is to simplify the medical terminology such that you will be equipped to take action and educate others. Let me know if this goal was achieved at the end of the article. Ready? Let’s go!

A cancer is simply when cells in any part of the body begin to grow and multiply uncontrollably. Cancers are named according to the part of the body the abnormal growth starts regardless of where it spreads to so we can infer that cervical cancer is cancer which starts in the cervix. The cervix is the lowermost part of the uterus (womb, or where babies grow when a woman is pregnant): it connects the vagina (birth canal) to the upper part of the womb. Cervical cancer occurs when there is an abnormal growth of the cells of the cervix. Anyone with a cervix is at risk of cervical cancer and it mostly affects women over 30 years of age.

What causes cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer is caused by certain types of a virus called the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). HPV is sexually transmitted so if you are or have been sexually active, there are chances you’ve been exposed to a particular type of the HPV.

How do I know I have cervical cancer?

The fact is, cervical cancer rarely shows any signs or symptoms until later stages when the cancer is advanced. There is typically no way to tell by yourself if you have cervical cancer and that is the reason we encourage preventive measures which we will discuss soon. The advanced stages of cervical cancer however may present with symptoms including:

Vaginal bleeding after intercourse, between periods or after menopause.

Watery or bloody vaginal discharge that may be heavy and have a foul odor

Pelvic pain or pain during intercourse.

Pain during urination and frequent urges to urinate

These signs may also be caused by other conditions so to be sure, make an appointment to see a doctor if you have any of these symptoms or others that concern you.

How do I decrease my risk and prevent cervical cancer?

The most important things to do are to get vaccinated against the HPV and to get screened regularly. The vaccine protects against the types of HPV that often cause cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers. Vaccination is recommended for everyone who hasn’t attained age 25 yet even though it is preferable by age 15. HPV vaccination is not usually recommended above age 25 as it provides less benefit because most people would have been exposed to the HPV already: HPV vaccinations prevent new infections and do not protect against existing infections.

The Pap smear

The pap smear is a screening test that looks for cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if not treated, we call them precancerous changes. The sampler takes some cells from your cervix using an instrument called a speculum and a “brush” and then brought to the laboratory for testing to check if your cervical cells look normal. It is advised to get a pap smear every two to three years and by age 21 to increase chances of detection of any precancerous cells, if any.

Treatment options and bottom line

There are several treatment options for cervical cancer including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy but the effectiveness of treatment depends on the stage at which the cancer is detected. An early detection will save your life so if you are over 15 or sexually active, get an HPV vaccine and get a pap smear every two to three years.

I hope this simplifies cervical cancer for you. Educate someone today and share this to your network and together let’s create awareness on cervical cancer.

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