What is cervical cancer
Cervical cancer is cancer that occurs when there are cells in the cervix aka the cervix that are not normal, and continues to grow uncontrollably.
Abnormal cells can develop quickly, resulting in tumors in the cervix. A malignant tumor will later develop into a cause of cervical cancer.
The cervix itself is an organ that is shaped like a cylindrical tube. Its function is to connect the vagina with the uterus.
This cancer is one of the most common cancers in women throughout the world. However, routine pap smear tests can help detect cervical cancer early.
Cervical cancer can often be cured if found early. Also, there are several methods to control the risk of cervical cancer, which makes the number of cervical cancer cases decreased.
How common is cervical cancer
Cervical cancer is very common throughout the world. According to records of the World Health Organization or WHO, cervical cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer in women. Furthermore, the WHO also observed that the incidence of cervical cancer is greater in developing countries than in developed countries.
In Indonesia, the Ministry of Health even notes that cervical cancer is ranked second for the type of cancer most commonly found after breast cancer. Every year, there are around 40,000 new cases of cervical cancer that are detected in Indonesian women.
This condition can occur in patients of any age. However, as we age, the risk of someone developing cervical cancer is greater.
Cervical cancer can be treated by reducing risk factors. Discuss it with your doctor for more information.
Signs & symptoms
In the initial stages, women with early and pre-cancerous cervical cancer will experience no symptoms. The reason is, cervical cancer does not show symptoms until the tumor is formed. The tumor can then push the surrounding organs and disrupt healthy cells. Symptoms of cervical cancer can be characterized by the following characteristics.
- Unusual bleeding from the vagina. For example, bleeding when you are not menstruating, longer periods, bleeding after or during sex, after menopause, after bowel movements, or after the pelvic examination.
- Menstrual cycles become irregular.
- Pain in the pelvis (in the lower abdomen).
- Pain during sex or sex.
- Pain in the waist (lower back) or legs.
- Limp body and easily tired.
- Decreased weight when not on a diet.
- Loss of appetite.
- Abnormal vaginal fluids, such as strong odor or with blood.
- One foot swelled up.
There are several other conditions, such as infection, which can cause various characteristics of cervical cancer. However, whatever the cause, you still have to visit a doctor to see it. Ignoring the possibility of cervical cancer symptoms will only make the condition worse and lose the opportunity for effective treatment.
Better yet, don’t wait until cervical cancer symptoms appear. The best way to treat your genitals is to have a pap smear test and regular pelvic examination to the obstetrician.
There may be signs and symptoms of cervical cancer not mentioned above. If you have a concern about a specific symptom, consult your doctor.
When to see a doctor
If you show some of the signs or symptoms of cervical cancer above or other questions, consult your doctor. Each person’s body is different. Always consult a doctor to deal with your health condition and check yourself for any signs of cervical cancer.
However, all women (especially those who are married or sexually active) should see a doctor to get tested and get an HPV vaccine. There is no need to wait for new cervical cancer symptoms to seek medical help.
Women over the age of 40 are also advised to see a doctor and have regular pap smears. The reason is, the more you age the more vulnerable you are to this cancer. While you might not feel the various symptoms of cervical cancer that have begun to attack.
What causes cervical cancer
Almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by human papillomavirus or abbreviated as HPV. There are more than one hundred types of HPV, but so far there are only about 13 types of viruses that can cause cervical cancer. This virus is often transmitted through sexual contact.
In a woman’s body, this virus produces two types of proteins, namely E6 and E7. Both of these proteins are dangerous because they can deactivate certain genes in a woman’s body that play a role in stopping tumor development.
Both of these proteins also trigger the aggressive growth of uterine wall cells. This unnatural cell growth eventually causes gene changes (also known as gene mutations). This gene mutation which then becomes the cause of cervical cancer develops in the body.
Some types of HPV do not cause symptoms at all. However, some types can cause genital warts, and some can cause cervical cancer. Only doctors can diagnose and determine how dangerous the type of HPV you are experiencing.
Two strains of the HPV virus (HPV 16 and HPV 18) are known to play a role in 70% of cervical cancer cases. This type of HPV infection does not cause any symptoms, so many women do not realize they have an infection. Most adult women actually “host” HPV at some point in their lives.
HPV can be easily found through a pap smear test. This is why a pap smear test is very important to prevent cervical cancer. Pap smear tests can detect differences in cervical cells before they turn into cancer. If you handle these cell changes, you can protect yourself from cervical cancer.
So far, HPV is known to be the main cause of cervical cancer. However, several risk factors can increase your chances of getting this cancer, even if you don’t have a history of HPV infection. Consider the following risk factors for cervical cancer.
- Human papillomavirus infection. Having sex with multiple partners can increase your risk of getting HPV 16 and 18. Likewise, risky sexual behavior such as unprotected sex or sharing the same sex toys. Also, women who have never gotten a vaccine (immunization) of HPV are certainly more susceptible to being infected with HPV which could be the cause of cervical cancer.
- Smoke. Tobacco contains many chemicals that are not good for the body. Women who smoke have a risk of up to two times greater than non-smokers in women affected by cervical cancer.
Immunosuppression. Medications or conditions that affect the immune system, such as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes AIDS, can increase the risk of HPV infection and cause cervical cancer.
- Chlamydia infection. Several studies have shown a higher risk of cervical cancer in women with blood test results that indicate ever or being infected with one of the sexually transmitted diseases, namely chlamydia.
- Lack of consumption of fruits and vegetables. Women who have unhealthy eating patterns, for example rarely eat fruits and vegetables, may have a higher risk of cervical cancer.
Overweight (obesity). Women who are overweight are more prone to have adenocarcinoma of the cervix.
- Long-term use of oral contraceptives (birth control pills). Several studies have shown that taking oral contraceptives (birth control pills) for a long time, which is more than about five years, can increase the risk of cervical cancer. If you have taken birth control pills for a long time to prevent pregnancy, immediately consider choosing another contraceptive and discuss with your obstetrician. Recent studies have found that women who use intrauterine devices (IUDs, devices inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy) have a lower risk of cancer.
- Therefore, an IUD type of contraception can be an alternative for those of you who don’t want to get pregnant.
- Several times already pregnant and giving birth. Women who have been pregnant until giving birth (not miscarriage) 3 times or more have a higher risk of cervical cancer.
- Pregnant or give birth at a very young age. Very young means under 17 years of age from pregnancy to giving birth for the first time. Women who are younger than 17 years of age during the first pregnancy (not miscarriage) are twice as susceptible to cervical cancer.
- Poverty. Although a person’s economic situation does not necessarily cause cervical cancer, poverty is very likely to hinder women’s access to services and adequate health education, including pap smears.
- Diethylstilbestrol (DES). DES is a hormonal drug given to women to prevent miscarriage. Mothers who use this drug during pregnancy have a greater risk of cervical cancer. Girls who are born also have a greater risk. This drug has not been prescribed for pregnant women since the 1980s.
- However, those of you who have been pregnant or were born before 1980 are still at risk of developing cancer.
- Heredity. If in your family, such as a grandmother, mother, or female cousin who has had cervical cancer, you are two to two times more susceptible to cervical cancer than people who have no inherited cancer. The problem is gene mutations that cause cervical cancer can be passed down to the next generation.
- Age. Women under the age of fifteen have the lowest risk of this cancer. While the risk is increasing in women aged over 40 years.
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