I am a woman.
I am young.
I am climbing the career ladder.
I eat healthy food.
I exercise every morning.
I have many doting friends.
I also have, CERVICAL CANCER.
This could be the story of the woman you see in the metro each day, your friend from college, your distant cousin or it could also be, YOU. As of 2017, the ICO Information Centre on HPV and Cancer estimates that every year 1,22,844 Indian women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 67,477 die from the disease. Cervical cancer doesn’t judge you or your background; it can affect any woman just the same. Awareness is the first step towards combating it, consequently an early screening could be life-saving.
What is Cervical Cancer?
Cervical cancer begins with the abnormal growth of cells lining the cervix, which is the lower part of the womb (or the uterus) that gives way to the vagina. These cells initially show some pre-cancerous changes which can show up at a very early stage through a PAP test. Often, an early diagnosis helps begin treatment soon enough to prevent any further complication or progression of the disease.
Causes and Risk Factors of Cervical Cancer
The most common causative factor of Cervical Cancer is the HPV (or Human Papilloma virus) which transmits sexually from a person carrying the virus. This is even applicable for monogamous relationships. It is important to note that not all women infected by HPV will go on to develop cervical cancer. In fact, in most cases the infection either resolves on its own or manifests itself as warts or some other symptom which can be cured easily.
Other risk factors may include the following.
Cervical Cancer symptoms to watch out for
In a lot of cases, the preliminary stage or pre-cancerous stages will have no symptoms at all. Presence of symptoms might indicate that the cancer has advanced. The following signs are the most noticeable:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding (such as bleeding after sex or between two menstrual cycles)
- Unusual vaginal discharge, sometimes containing blood
- Pain during sex
Preventive measures to mitigate risk
The two major precautionary measures that can help avoid complications are:
- HPV Vaccination – HPV vaccine fights against the two most common HPV strains (types 16 and 18), which are causative to 70% of all cervical cancers.
- PAP Smear Test – Women over 21 years of age are recommended to undergo regular PAP tests since any presence of abnormal cervical cells comes up in this test. If it does happen, it is mostly due to the cells being in the pre-cancerous stages.Treatment at this stage is usually easy, since the cancer has not become invasive.
Based on the stage, cervical cancer treatment options may vary. A simple hysterectomy could be done to curb the cancer in the earliest stages, while radiation or chemotherapy may be required in more advanced stages. Since cervical cancer affects fertility, consult with your doctor if you notice symptoms while you are pregnant.
Understandably, treatments like chemotherapy can involve a lot of mental as well as physical hassle. One step towards reducing the impending stress is opting for Chemotherapy services at home. HealthCare atHOME offers expert cancer care services ranging from PICC line dressing to chemotherapy within the comfort of your home.
To avail expert cancer care services, reach out to us at 1800-102-4224.