Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is malignant neoplasm of the cervix uteri or cervical area (the lower part of the uterus that opens at the top of the vagina).  Cancer of the cervix is the second most common cancer among women worldwide. It is estimated that around 250,000 women die from cervical cancer every year.

Causes

Almost all cervical cancer cases (99%) are caused by the Human Papillomavirus or HPV.  There are many different types of HPV but only about 15 types of HPV are known to cause cervical cancer. Types 16 and 18 account for more than 70% of all cervical cancer cases worldwide.

Transmission

  • HPV infection is easily transmitted
  • Acquisition may be by skin-to-skin genital contact.
  • Penetrative intercourse is not necessary to become infected.
  • Condom usage may not adequately protect individuals from exposure to HPV.
  • 50% to 80% percent of women will acquire an HPV infection in their lifetime
  • Half of these women will be infected with cancer-causing HPV at some point, usually soon after their first sexual encounter

Risk Factors

  • Having Multiple Sex partners
  • Early Sexual activity
  • Other STD infections
  • Family history
  • Women over the age of 40
  • Multiple pregnancies

Signs and Symptoms

Most of the time, early cervical cancer has no symptoms. Symptoms that may occur can include:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding between periods, after intercourse, or after menopause
  • Any bleeding after menopause
  • Continuous vaginal discharge, which may be pale, watery, pink, brown, bloody, or foul-smelling
  • Periods become heavier and last longer than usual

Symptoms of advanced cervical cancer:

  • Back pain
  • Bone fractures
  • Fatigue
  • Heavy bleeding from the vagina
  • Leaking of urine or feces from the vagina
  • Leg pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pelvic pain
  • Single swollen leg
  • Weight loss

Prevention

  • The most effective way to prevent HPV cancers is by vaccinating against the HPV genital strain of the virus.
  • Vaccination is advised before an individual is sexually active because it can take just one sexual encounter to become infected.
  • Practicing safe sex (using condoms) also reduces your risk of HPV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
  • To further reduce the risk of cervical cancer, women should limit their number of sexual partners and avoid partners who participate in high-risk sexual activities.
  • Getting regular pap smears can help detect precancerous changes, which can be treated before they turn into cervical cancer.Adults 65 years and older

Vaccines available to prevent HPV Infection:

Cervical Cancer (HPV) Vaccines

Resources for this article:
http://www.cervicalcancer.org
http://www.gsk.com.ph
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov