Risk Factors. Prevention and Treatment
Cervical cancer starts in the cells of the cervix. The cervix is located in the lower part of the uterus, connecting the uterus and the vagina.
Cervical cancer develops gradually, starting as a precancerous condition called dysplasia. Dysplasia is a general term for an abnormality of the cells within tissues or organs. Cervical dysplasia can be detected by a Pap smear and can be completely treated.
Various strains of human papillomavirus (HPV) cause most cases of cervical cancer. HPV is an infection transmitted through sexual intercourse.
Types of Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer has two main types:
- Squamous cell carcinoma. This type of cervical cancer begins in the squamous cells on the surface of the cervix. Squamous cells are thin and flat in shape.
- Adenocarcinoma. This type of cervical cancer begins in the columnar cells in the cervical canal. Columnar cells are column-shaped glands.
Symptoms of Cervical Cancer
Symptoms of cervical cancer generally manifest when it is already in its advanced stage. These includes:
- Vaginal bleeding after sexual intercourse, between periods or after menopause.
- Abnormal vaginal discharge that may be heavy and foul-smelling.
- Pain during or after sexual intercourse.
Sexual habits and patterns play a major role in developing cervical cancer. Sexual practices putting you at greater risk includes:
- Having sex or being sexually active at an early age.
- Having multiple sex partners.
- Having partners involved in high-risk sexual activities.
- Having STIs
Other risk factors include:
- Having a weak immune system
- Not getting HPV vaccine
How to prevent developing cervical cancer?
To protect yourself and reduce the risk of developing cervical cancer, have yourself screened and get vaccinated against HPV infection.
- Get vaccination. This is available for girls and women ages 9 to 26. The vaccine is more effective if received before becoming sexually active.
- Get screened. Pap smear tests help in the detection, the bigger the chance for complete treatment and for prevention of fully developing cervical cancer. Women are suggested to get a Pap smear screening at age 21 and routinely undergo the test every few years.
- Practice safe sex. Practicing safe sex can go a long way of preventing HPV and reducing risk of developing cervical cancer.
- Quit smoking. Smoking is associated with the development of squamous cell cervical cancer. It also weakens the immune system, making the body more vulnerable to diseases and infections.
Cervical Cancer Treatment
For early stage cervical cancer, gynecologic oncologists recommend surgery to remove the cervix, uterus, and other affected tissues to excise the cancer.
For advanced cervical cancer, the most common recommendation is a combination of radiation and chemotherapy.
Prevention is key. Have yourself checked. See your trusted Ob-Gyne at FUMC- Valenzuela or FUMC-Antipolo.
Book an appointment at FUMC-VAL 02 8291 6538 or FUMC-ANT 02 8727 8845.