Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix. This is the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. According to the World Health Organization, cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer among women globally. In 2020, there were an estimated 604,000 new cases and 342, 000 deaths reported. More than 95 percent of the cases are due to the human papillomavirus (HPV). It is important to understand that this type of cancer is preventable with primary prevention in the form of HPV vaccination, secondary prevention in form of screening and immediate medical assistance if necessary, and tertiary prevention treatment of invasive cancer. Armouring yourself with the knowledge about cervical cancer can help you spot early signs and understand what to do next. Read on to find more:
Types of Cervical Cancer
According to the National Cancer Institute, there are two types of cervical cancer. They are named after the type of cell where the cancer started. The first is known as the squamous cell carcinoma. This is the most common type of cervical cancer. Up to 90 percent of cases are squamous cell carcinomas. This develops from cells in the ectocervix.
The second type of cervical cancer is called adenocarcinoma. This develops in the glandular cells of the endocervix. Clear cell adenocarcinoma is a rare type of cervical adenocarcinoma.
It is also vital to understand that sometimes, cervical cancer has features of both the types. When this happens, it is called mixed carcinoma or adenosquamous carcinoma. It is extremely rare for cancer to develop in other cells in the cervix.
Symptoms of Cervical Cancer
It might be hard to spot any signs or symptoms of cervical cancer early on. Advanced cervical cancer, however, may cause bleeding or discharge from the vagina that is not normal. In case you are experiencing any of the following it is best to visit a healthcare practitioner:
- Blood spots or light bleeding between or following periods
- Menstrual bleeding that is longer and heavier than usual
- Bleeding after intercourse, or a pelvic examination
- Increased vaginal discharge
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Bleeding after menopause
- Unexplained, persistent pelvic and/or back pain
Diagnosis of Cervical Cancer
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a person can be diagnosed for cervical cancer with the help of the HPV test and thepap test. This is also crucial in order to help prevent cervical cancer or find it early.
The HPV test looks for the virus known as human papillomavirus that can cause cell changes on the cervix. The cells collected during the test are sent to the laboratory to be tested for HPV.
The pap test also known as pap smear looks for precancers. The test looks for cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer. The cells will be checked to see if they look normal.
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