Cervical Cancer: Explanation, Treatment and Prevention

Cervical Cancer: Explanation, Treatment and Prevention

Cervical Cancer Explained

Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix, which is the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. Most cervical cancers are caused by persistent infection with high-risk types of human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection.

Cervical cancer or cervical cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in women. Based on research in 2020, there were more than 600,000 cases of cervical cancer with 342,000 deaths worldwide.

Types of Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is divided into two types, namely:

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)

Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common type of cervical cancer. KSS begins in cervical squamous cells, namely the cells that line the outside of the cervix.

Adenocarcinoma

Adenocarcinoma is a type of cervical cancer that begins in the gland cells in the cervical canal.

Although rare, the two types of cervical cancer above can occur simultaneously. Cervical cancer can also occur in cervical cells other than squamous cells or glandular cells, but this is very rare.

In fact, most sexually active women and men will be infected at some point in their lives, and some may be infected repeatedly. More than 90% of the infected population eventually recover from the infection. Although most HPV infections resolve spontaneously and cause no symptoms, persistent infections can develop into cervical cancer in women.

Causes of Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer occurs when healthy cells undergo changes or mutations. This mutation causes these cells to grow abnormally and uncontrollably, thus forming cancer cells.

It is not yet known what causes changes in the genes of these cells. However, this condition is known to be associated with human papilloma virus (HPV) infection, which can be transmitted through sexual intercourse.

Some individuals are at higher risk of developing cervical cancer if they have the following risk factors :

  1. Having another sexually transmitted disease
  2. Married/started sexual activity at a young age (<20 years)
  3. Changing sexual partners or having sexual relations with individuals who frequently change partners
  4. Active or passive smoking
  5. Have a weak immune system
  6. There is a family history of cervical cancer

Life Expectancy for Cervical Cancer Patients

The life expectancy of cervical cancer sufferers depends on the stage they are experiencing. This figure is an illustration of the percentage of sufferers who are still alive 5 years after being diagnosed with cervical cancer.

For example, a life expectancy of 80% means that 80 out of 100 sufferers survive 5 years or more after being diagnosed with cervical cancer.

The following are the life expectancy figures for cervical cancer sufferers based on the stage experienced:

  • Stage 1: 90% or more
  • Stage 2: 60–80%
  • Stage 3: 50%
  • Stage 4: ≤30%

Treatment and Prevention of Cervical Cancer

Treatment and prevention strategies for cervical cancer involve a combination of medical interventions, screenings, and lifestyle measures. Here are key aspects of the treatment and prevention of cervical cancer:

Treatment:

Surgery:

Conization: Removal of a cone-shaped piece of tissue from the cervix.

Hysterectomy: Removal of the uterus may be recommended for more advanced cases or when other treatments are not effective.

Radiation Therapy:

External Beam Radiation: Targets cancer cells from outside the body.

Brachytherapy: Involves placing radioactive sources directly into or near the tumor.

Chemotherapy:

Drugs are used to kill or slow the growth of cancer cells.

Often used in conjunction with radiation therapy.

Targeted Therapy:

Specific drugs target particular molecules involved in cancer growth.

Immunotherapy:

Enhances the body's immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells.

Clinical Trials:

Participation in research studies exploring new treatments.

Prevention:

HPV Vaccination:

Vaccination against high-risk HPV types (e.g., HPV-16 and HPV-18) is recommended for adolescents before sexual activity begins.

Regular Screenings:

Pap Test (Pap Smear): Regular screenings can detect abnormal changes in cervical cells before they become cancerous.

HPV Test: Identifies the presence of high-risk HPV types.

Early Detection:

Early diagnosis through routine screenings improves the chances of successful treatment.

Safe Sexual Practices:

Using barrier methods (condoms) during sexual activity can reduce the risk of HPV transmission.

Smoking Cessation:

Quitting smoking can reduce the risk of cervical cancer and improve overall health.

Limiting Sexual Partners:

Limiting the number of sexual partners can reduce the risk of HPV exposure.

Healthy Lifestyle:

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet and regular exercise, supports overall well-being.

Educational Programs:

Public health initiatives promoting awareness of cervical cancer, the importance of vaccinations, and the benefits of screenings.

Follow-Up Care:

Regular follow-up with healthcare providers for those with a history of abnormal Pap smears or cervical abnormalities.

It's important for individuals to be proactive about their health, participate in routine screenings, and discuss vaccination options with their healthcare providers. Prevention and early detection significantly improve the outcomes for cervical cancer. Regular follow-up care after treatment is also essential for monitoring and managing any potential recurrence.

 

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