What is cervical cancer most often caused by?
Cervical cancer is a form of cancer that develops in the cells of the cervix, which links the uterus to the vaginal canal. Most cervical cancer is caused by different strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection.
When the body is exposed to HPV, the immune system usually stops the virus from causing harm. However, in a tiny number of people, the virus can live for years, contributing to the transformation of certain cervical cells into cancer cells.
Cervical cancer can be prevented by having screening tests and getting a vaccination that protects against HPV infection.
Cervical cancer in its early stages usually has no symptoms.
Cervical cancer that has progressed has the following signs and symptoms:
- Vaginal bleeding occurs after a sexual encounter, during a period, or after menopause.
- Vaginal discharge that is watery, crimson, and has a bad odour.
- Pelvic pain or discomfort during sexual activity
Cervical cancer is caused by changes (mutations) in the DNA of healthy cells in the cervix. The DNA of a cell includes the instructions that tell it what to do.
Healthy cells develop and replicate at a certain pace before dying at a predetermined period. The mutations cause the cells to proliferate and replicate uncontrollably, and they do not perish as a result. The aberrant cells that are accumulating create a bulk (tumor). Cancer cells can infiltrate adjacent tissues and break out from a tumour to spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body.
Although the exact aetiology of cervical cancer is unknown, HPV is known to play a role. HPV is quite widespread, and the majority of persons infected with it never develop cancer. This means other factors — such as your environment or your lifestyle choices — also determine whether you'll develop cervical cancer.
Types of cervical cancer
The type of cervical cancer that you have helps determine your prognosis and treatment. The main types of cervical cancer are:
- Squamous cell carcinoma is a kind of cancer that affects the skin. Cervical cancer of this sort starts in the thin, flat cells (squamous cells) that line the outer section of the cervix, which protrudes into the vaginal canal. Squamous cell carcinomas account for the majority of cervical malignancies.
- Adenocarcinoma. The column-shaped glandular cells that border the cervical canal are where this kind of cervical cancer originates.
Cervical cancer can involve both types of cells at times. Cancer in the cervix's other cells occurs very rarely.
Risk factors for cervical cancer include:
- There are several sexual partners. The more sexual partners you have — and the more sexual partners your partner has — the more likely you are to get HPV.
- Sexual behaviour at a young age. HPV infection is more likely if you have sex while you're young.
- Infections spread by sexual contact (STIs). Other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, and HIV/AIDS enhance your chance of contracting HPV.
- A compromised immune system. If your immune system is impaired by another health issue and you have HPV, you may be more likely to develop cervical cancer.
- Smoking. Squamous cell cervical cancer is linked to smoking.
- Miscarriage prevention medication exposure.
To reduce your risk of cervical cancer:
- Inquire about the HPV vaccination with your doctor. Preventing HPV infection with a vaccine may lower your risk of cervical cancer and other HPV-related malignancies. Consult your doctor to see if an HPV vaccination is right for you.
- Pap tests should be done on a regular basis. Precancerous abnormalities of the cervix can be detected via Pap tests, which can then be monitored or treated to avoid cervical cancer. Routine Pap tests should be started at the age of 21 and repeated every few years, according to most medical organizations.
- Make sure you're having safe sex. Take steps to avoid sexually transmitted diseases, such as using a condom every time you have sex and limiting your sexual partners, to lower your risk of cervical cancer.
- Please don't smoke. Don't start smoking if you don't already. If you do smoke, talk to your doctor about quitting options.
If you suspect any of the symptoms associated with cervical cancer, make an appointment at the earliest with Dr. Vijay Karan Reddy, the best Cancer doctor in Hyderabad!.