Cervical cancer is one of the most foremost causes of mortality amongst the gynecological cancers. It is also the third most common type of cancer in women. It is highly important for women to know the causes and questions associated with cervical cancer to lead a long and healthy life. In this article, we are listing top ten frequently asked questions regarding the malady to help you know more about this killing disease which can assist you in leading a healthy cancer free life.
1. What is cervical cancer?
Cervix that lies at the underside of the uterus and over the vagina serves as a passageway for menstrual flow and child birth. The cancer is usually caused by the irregular growth of cervical cells. Higher the growth of these cells, higher the risk of getting the disease. When the cells start growing out of control, the cancer can spread beyond the cervix.
2. How does it develop?
The most common cause of cervical cancer is human papilloma virus, also called HPV. It is a sexually transmitted virus and is of different types. Some lead to cervical cancer, whereas others cause genital warts, and some do not affect at all. Women who smoke and have weaker immune system are most affected by HPV.
3. Are there other risk factors?
Cervical cancer can be lethal for Caucasian women aged 45 to 70. African-American women who are in their 70s also have an increased risk of dying from this disease. Women who uses oral contraceptives, have had many children or sexual partners at a young age are more prone to be affected by HPV.
4. How is it detected?
Cervical cancer is mostly detected through a screening test known as Pap test which conducts a pelvic exam and takes a sample of surface cervical cells. Further, they are checked microscopically for any sort of abnormalities. If the results are positive, HPV DNA test is called to look for a cause.
5. Does screening have risks?
The treatment may be delayed, if the results are false negative. But, false positive tests cause more concern and require further insidious tests, such as, colposcopy and an inspection of the vagina and cervix with a lighted scope.
6. What are the symptoms?
Usually, there are no symptoms of cervical cancer. However, one may experience pain during sexual intercourse, abnormal vaginal bleeding, bloody vaginal discharge and inexplicable menstrual changes.
7. What are the stages?
The stage 0 of cervical cancer is non-invasive and is only restricted to the cervix surface. Stage 1 indicates cancer in the cervix, whereas stage 2 points cancer beyond the cervix. Stage 3 specifies that the cancer includes pelvic wall, which can apparently prevent urination. Stage 4 signifies that the cancer now involves the rectum, bladder and areas ahead of the pelvis.
8. What is the treatment?
Generally, the treatment of cervical cancer depends on its stages. If the cancer is in its early stage, then the patient is recommended to go for or a hysterectomy or a cone biopsy to get the cervix and uterus removed. The chemotherapy is required, if the cancer has reached its later stages. Lymph nodes may also be removed by a surgery.
9. What are the survival rates?
According to the American Cancer Society, around 11,270 cases of cervical cancer were diagnosed in the year 2009. If their figures are to be believed, women who are diagnosed at the early stage of the cancer possess a survival rate of 92%.
10. Does menopause lower the risk?
Menopause has no influence in the expansion of cervical cancer. However, it is required for women to go for yearly Pap tests. According to the National Cancer Institute, only the women between the age of 65 and 70 require three or more regular Pap results.