Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that affects the cervix, the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. It is caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), a common sexually transmitted infection. While it is one of the most common types of cancer among women, cervical cancer is also one of the most preventable and curable types of cancer when detected early.
Cervical cancer may not cause any symptoms in its early stages. As the cancer grows, symptoms may include:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding, such as bleeding between periods, after sex, or after menopause
- Pain during sex
- Unusual vaginal discharge that may be thick, foul-smelling, or bloody
- Pelvic pain or pain during urination
Several factors can increase the risk of developing cervical cancer, including:
- HPV infection: HPV is a common sexually transmitted infection that can cause cervical cancer. Certain types of HPV are more likely to lead to cancer than others.
- Smoking: Women who smoke are more likely to develop cervical cancer than nonsmokers.
- Weak immune system: Women with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS, are more susceptible to HPV and cervical cancer.
- History of sexually transmitted infections: Women who have had other sexually transmitted infections, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea, may be at a higher risk of developing cervical cancer.
- Family history of cervical cancer: Women with a family history of cervical cancer may be at an increased risk of developing the disease.
Prevention is key when it comes to cervical cancer. Here are some ways to reduce the risk of developing cervical cancer:
- Get vaccinated against HPV: The HPV vaccine can protect against the types of HPV that are most likely to lead to cervical cancer. The vaccine is recommended for boys and girls starting at age 11 or 12.
- Get regular Pap tests: Pap tests can detect abnormal cells in the cervix before they become cancerous. Women should start getting Pap tests at age 21 and continue until age 65.
- Practice safe sex: Using condoms can reduce the risk of contracting HPV and other sexually transmitted infections.
- Don’t smoke: Smoking is a major risk factor for cervical cancer, so quitting smoking can help reduce the risk.
Cervical cancer is often detected through routine Pap tests, which can detect abnormal cells in the cervix before they become cancerous. If abnormal cells are detected, further tests, such as a biopsy, may be needed to confirm the diagnosis. Other tests, such as an HPV test, may also be done to check for the presence of HPV in the cervix.
The treatment for cervical cancer depends on the stage and extent of the cancer, as well as the patient’s overall health. Treatment options may include:
- Surgery: Surgery to remove the cancerous tissue may be recommended, depending on the extent of the cancer.
- Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells.
- Targeted therapy: Targeted therapy uses drugs that specifically target the proteins on the surface of cancer cells.
Asian Cancer Institute
Asian Hospital and Medical Center’s Cancer Institute provides a comprehensive range of services for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cervical cancer. The hospital’s team of experienced healthcare professionals uses the latest diagnostic and treatment techniques to provide personalized care for each patient.
To know more about the services of Asian Cancer Institute, please call (02) 8771 9000 local 8070
- American Cancer Society. (2021). Cervical Cancer. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cervical-cancer.html
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Cervical Cancer. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/cervical/index.htm
- World Health Organization. (2021). Cervical Cancer. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/cancer/prevention/diagnosis-screening/cervical-cancer/en/
- National Cervical Cancer Coalition. (2021). Cervical Cancer. Retrieved from https://www.nccc-online.org/hpvcervical-cancer/cervical-cancer-overview/
- Mayo Clinic. (2021). Cervical Cancer. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cervical-cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20352501