It is the second most common female cancer just below breast cancer.
Risk factors/ Causes
- Human papilloma virus infection, especially types 16 and 18
- Sexual activity: women who start their sexual lives early and have many sexual partners are at increased risk for developing cervical cancer.
- Age: The older the woman, the more likely it is she develops cervical cancer
- Women with many pregnancies
Symptoms – Diagnosis
- Cervical cancer is usually asymptomatic in early stages
- Abnormal smear test (PAP test) (precancer diagnosis like CIN I, II, III)
- Vaginal bleeding after sexual intercourse
- Unpleasant smell in vaginal secretions
- Any form of vaginal bleeding, post menaupausal bleeding or interruption of menstrual period.
- Blood in the urine or leg swelling in advanced stages
Diagnostic procedure includes:
- Smear: all women should have a regular smear (pap test) after the beginning of their sexual life, as it reduces the likelihood of cervical cancer by 80%. If it proves to be negative, it needs to be repeated once yearly between the 10th and 20th day of the menstrual cycle. In women after 35 years of age, provided that the smear test is of high quality and its results are negative, it can be repeated every two or maximum three years.
- HPV testing should be done if it is indicated by the pap-test or if there is a medical history of papillomas in the family or sexual partners.
- Gynaecological examination
Cervical cancer can be cured if diagnosed early. Both the type as well as the intensity of the treatment will depend on disease stage. It might include surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy.
PAP test and HPV testing. HPV vaccine which is a new development in cervical cancer prevention. It should be offered to all women 12 to 23 years old preferably before begin their sexual activity.