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Cervical Cancer Symptoms & Causes

 Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix – the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. Various strains of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection, play a role in causing most cervical cancers.

When exposed to HPV, the body's immune system usually stops the virus from harming it. In a small percentage of people, however, the virus survives for years, contributing to the process that causes some cervical cells to convert into cancer cells.

You can reduce your risk of developing cervical cancer by getting a screening test and getting a vaccine that protects against HPV infection.



Symptoms

Early-stage of cervical cancer generally produces no signs or symptoms. But signs and symptoms of more-advanced cervical cancer may include:


  • Vaginal bleeding after intercourse, between periods or after menopause.
  • Watery, bloody vaginal discharge that may be heavy and have a foul odor.
  • Pelvic pain or pain during intercourse.


When To See A Doctor?

Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any signs or symptoms that concern you.


Causes

Cervical cancer begins when healthy cells in the cervix develop changes (mutations) in their DNA. A cell's DNA contains the instructions that tell a cell what to do.

Cervical cancer begins when healthy cells in the cervix develop mutations in their DNA. A cell's DNA contains instructions that tell a cell what to do.

A healthy cells grow and multiply at a set rate, eventually dying over a set amount of time. Mutations tell cells to grow and grow out of control, and they don't die. The abnormal cells that accumulate form a mass (tumour). Cancer cells invade nearby tissues and can break off from the tumor to spread (metastasize) elsewhere in the body.

It is not clear that what causes cervical cancer, but it is certain that HPV plays a major role. HPV is very common, and most people with the virus never develop cancer. This means that other factors – such as your environment or your lifestyle choices – also determine whether you will develop cervical cancer.


Types Of Cervical Cancer

The types of cervical cancer you have help determining your prognosis and treatment. The main types of cervical cancer are:

Squamous Cell Carcinoma- This type of cervical cancer begins in the thin, flat cells (squamous cells) of the outer part of the cervix, which project into the vagina. Most cervical cancers are squamous cell carcinomas.

Adenocarcinoma- This type of cervical cancer begins in the column-shaped glandular cells that line the cervical canal. Sometimes, both types of cells are involved in cervical cancer. Very rarely, cancer occurs in other cells of the cervix.


Risk Factors

Risk factors for cervical cancer include:

Many Sexual Partners- The greater number of sexual partners — and the greater your partner's number of sexual partners — the greater your chance of acquiring HPV.

Early Sexual Activity- Having sex at an early age increases your risk of HPV. 

Other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)- Having other STIs — such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and HIV/AIDS — increases your risk of HPV.

A Weakened Immune System- You may be more likely to develop cervical cancer if your immune system is week by another health condition and you have HPV.

Smoking- Smoking is associated with squamous cell cervical cancer.

Exposure To Miscarriage Prevention Drug- If your mother took a drug called diethylstilbestrol (DES) during pregnancy in the 1950s, you may have an increased risk of a certain type of cervical cancer called clear cell adenocarcinoma.



Prevention

To reduce your risk of cervical cancer:

Ask Your Doctor About The HPV Vaccine- Getting vaccinated to prevent HPV infection can reduce your risk of cervical cancer and other HPV-related cancers. Ask your doctor if the HPV vaccine is suitable for you.

Have Routine Pap Tests- Pap tests can detect precancerous conditions of the cervix, so they can be monitored or treated to prevent cervical cancer. Most medical organizations recommend starting regular Pap tests at age of 21 and repeating them every few years.

Practice Safe Sex- Reduce your risk of cervical cancer by taking measures to prevent sexually transmitted infections, such as using a condom every time you have sex and limiting the number of sexual partners you have.

Don't Smoke- If you don't smoke, don't start. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about strategies to help you quit.

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