Cancer of the cervix affects the entrance to the uterus (womb). Also referred to as the neck of the womb, the cervix is the narrow part of the lower uterus.
Causes and Risks
The major cause of cervical cancer is HPV (human papillomavirus). An HPV vaccine is available and is recommended for all young adults in order to prevent cervical cancer.
The risk of developing cervical cancer increases when a person has many sexual partners and becomes sexually active at a young age, smokes, has a weakened immune system, long-term stress, gives birth at a young age, or had several pregnancies.
Cervical cancer can have no symptoms at all. This is why every woman should have a regular PAP smear test done at the gynaecologist to detect early signs of cervical cancer.
The top symptoms for cervical cancer are:
- Bleeding between periods or after sexual intercourse
- Discomfort during sexual intercourse
- Vaginal discharge that smells or has blood
- Pelvic pain
A colposcopy is scheduled if a Pap smear test shows that abnormal cells are present. During a colposcopy, the cervix will be examined with a microscope. A biopsy sample will also be taken.
In pre-invasive and early stages of cancer, a surgery will start the treatment process. This may entail the removal of the uterus (hysterectomy) as well as the surrounding tissue. The surgery is followed by radio and chemo therapy.