The Cause And Treatment
Cervical cancer is a common cancer among women. There has been a link established between the incidence of this disease and the presence of the human papillomavirus (HPV). Today, young women are encouraged to take a vaccine for HPV in an attempt to reduce the risk of contracting cervical cancer later in life.
It has been found that the HPV virus is present in nearly all cases of cervical cancer. However most women who have the HPV virus do not go on to develop cancer. Therefore, it is thought that other risk factors come into play. Some of these include having a weakened immune system, smoking cigarettes and increasing your risk of STDs by having multiple sexual partners. Engaging in sexual activity at an early age also seems to increase the risk of developing cancer of the cervix, possibly because immature cells are more vulnerable to cancerous changes triggered by the HPV virus.
Cancerous cells in the cervic is very dangerous because the early stages usually do not cause symptoms. By the time symptoms are observed, the cancer has become advanced. These symptoms include vaginal bleeding unrelated to the menstrual cycle, bleeding after intercourse, painful intercourse, pelvic pain, and abnormal vaginal discharge.
Treatment for cervical cancer depends on if it is confined to the outer layer or if it has invaded deep into the cervix. Cancer that is on the surface of the cervix can be surgically removed. The surgeon usually removes a portion of the cervix, but in some cases, a simple hysterectomy may be needed in order to remove all of the cancerous and pre-cancerous tissue.
Other types of surgery include laser surgery, cryosurgery, and electrosurgery. With laser surgery, a precise energy beam is directed onto the cancer in order to kill it. Cryosurgery kills the cancer by freezing it. Electrosurgery involves using an electrified wire to cut away cancer cells.
When cervical cancer is advanced, surgery usually calls for a radical hysterectomy that not only removes the cervix and uterus, but also removes part of the vagina and lymph nodes.
Radiation may also be used as a form of treatment. The radiation can be applied externally to the cervix or it can be placed into the cervix internally. In advanced cervical cancer, radiation is usually combined with chemotherapy to enhance its effectiveness. Chemotherapy is a treatment that uses powerful drugs alone or in combination with each other to travel throughout your body to kill spreading cancer cells.
You may be able to prevent cervical cancer if you take steps to prevent becoming infected with the HPV virus. This means practicing safe sex by always using condoms. Young girls may want to consider receiving the HPV vaccine called Gardasil. It is being recommended for girls as a routine vaccination at 11 to 12 years of age before becoming sexually active. Other young women up to age 26 are advised to take the vaccine also.
Since early cervical cancer often has no symptoms, regular pap tests are important in order to detect the HPV virus and any pre-cancerous changes to cervical cells.