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Cervical Cancer

Cervical Cancer
Cervix is the region that connects the uterus and the vagina which leads to the outside of the woman’s body. Cervical cancer is over growth of the tissue on the mouth of womb or uterus, called cervix.

Cervical Cancer is a disease of cells of the cervix. Normally, the cells of the cervix grow and divide in an orderly way.HPV infections may cause some cells to grow in an abnormal way causing a cervical lesion (known as dysplasia, pre–cancer or pre–cancerous change). If left untreated, a very small number of these lesions may invade surrounding tissue and eventually form cancer.

Causes of Cervical Cancer:
  • Studies have confirmed that certain types of the human papillomavirus (high risk HPV), are the primary cause of cervical cancer.
  • These types of HPV are present in virtually all cases of cervical cancer.
  • Only those women who have persistent infection with one or more of these “High–risk” types of HPV are at risk of developing cervical cancer.
  • However, not all women with a persistent HPV infection develop pre–cancerous changes or cancer. Other factors, such as smoking further increase the risk of developing of cervical cancer.
Signs & Symptoms of Cervical Cancer:
The women may not have any signs and symptoms and she will not know that she has the virus in her cervix responsible for causing cancer. It does not cause discomfort or have any obvious symptoms until the problem is very severe.

What every woman should know:
  • Cervical cancer is a completely preventable disease if the early stage (pre-cancerous stage) is detected and treated.
  • Pap smears are used to detect precancerous changes and cancer of the cervix. It is not a test for other forms of gynaecological cancers.
  • Certain types of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) cause Pre-cancerous changes in the cervix that may lead to cervical cancer if left undetected and untreated.
  • It is estimated that over 80% of women will become exposed to HPV at some time in their lives, with the majority of these infections resolving and disappearing without causing any ill effects.
  • It is not uncommon that a HPV infection will cause abnormal cells to appear on a Pap smear, in most cases this is not an indication of pre-cancerous changes or cervical cancer.
  • There are over 80 types of genital HPV, but 13 key types (“High–risk” HPV types) are known to cause cervical cancer.
  • Risk of developing cervical cancer is associated with the persistent infection (one that does not go away) of high risk HPV.
Diagnosis of Cervical Cancer:
There are 2 tests for Diagnosis namely
  1. Pap Test.
  2. HPV DNA Test.
Pap Test: Tells whether your cervical cells have any abnormalities caused by HPV. However, like all tests, the Pap isn’t completely foolproof. Sometimes, abnormal cells may be missed. It also depends on the skill of the pathologist in interpreting the smear.
HPV DNA Test: Tells whether the High risk virus is present that can cause abnormal cells to develop. The presence of the high risk virus helps the Gynecologist to monitor closely and to plan in the treatment or to monitor and prevent from developing cervical cancer. The presence of HPV Positive test doesn’t mean that the person will develop cervical cancer. It shows that there is a risk of developing cervical cancer. Persistent infection only leads to the development of cervical cancer. There are other cofactors for the dev elopement which varies from individual to individual.

Prevention of Cervical Cancer
All women above the age of 30 till the age of 65 years should undergo screening. Screening helps in Screening can detect treatable, precancerous lesions before they progress to cancer. Women with at least one previous negative cervical smear have low rates of invasive cancer for ten or more years. Cervical cancer develops slowly. Screening is not painful. The small number of women who need treatment after screening often receive a simple outpatient procedure to treat the lesion.

Treatment of Cervical Cancer:
  • There is no specific treatment for a HPV infection, only when it is confirmed that the virus has caused pre–cancerous changes to the cervix is it necessary to have treatment. Treatment in these case is simple and effective, and involves surgical removal of the pre–cancerous cells.
  • HPV infections are considered a normal outcome to any form of sexual activity.
  • Generally there is no need to alter your sexual practices or inform your current or past partners of a HPV infection.
  • HPV infections are not an indication of sexual promiscuity.
There are simple treatments available and it can be done as an out–patient procedure. Some of the treatment procedures are LEEP (Loop Electro Excision Procedure). Cryotherapy.

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