Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer patient

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

Overview of cervical cancer

Cervix is an essential organ of a woman’s reproductive system which helps in vaginal lubrication during sexual intercourse.Abnormalities in the normal functioning of the cervix can be a strong indicator of diseases of the organ which in due course of time can even lead to “Cervical Cancer”, a disease affecting millions of women all over the world.

According to statistics produced by the American Cancer Society, each year, more than 2,70,000 women die from cervical cancer and more than 85% of these deaths occur in low and middle-income countries.Clearly, the current global scenario of cervical cancer is alarming.

Definition of cervical cancer

Cervical cancer is defined as the abnormal cell growth and proliferation in the cervix that leads to the formation of solidified mass called tumors.

It is mainly catalyzed by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which is also responsible for several other infections of the reproductive tract.

Under healthy conditions, the normal cells of the cervix grow and divide and are replaced by new cells after their death.

But under certain abnormal conditions, old cells do not die even after a certain time and new cells are formed even though the body does not need them.

Thus these extra cells form solidified mass of tissues (malignant tumors) on the outer surface of the cervix.  After a certain stage, these tumors break loose from their site of formation (cervix) and are carried via the bloodstream to the lymph nodes, lungs, liver, and bones. Till date, cervical cancer is considered as the second most common cancer in women worldwide.

Causes of cervical cancer

Cervical cancer is typically a sexually transmitted disease, mediated by the HPV virus. The commonly studied causes of cervical cancer are described below-

  • Smoking: Thorough research has revealed tobacco by-products in the cervical mucus of women who are habitual smokers. These products have an adverse effect on the DNA of the cervix cells and may lead to cervical cancer.
  • Immunity: Immunocompromised people such as the ones suffering from HIV infection or women undergoing treatment for autoimmune diseases have high risks of HPV infection and cervical cancer.
  • Chlamydia infection: Women evincing history of Chlamydia infection (sexually transmitted bacterial infection) are more susceptible to HPV infection as well.
  • Diet: Regular diet deficient in fruits and vegetables can predispose the body to HPV infections.
  • Obesity: Adenocarcinoma of the cervix may develop in women who are overweight.
  • Medications: Taking oral contraceptive pills for a prolonged period (5 years or more) can increase chances of cervical cancer. Also, few fertility drugs such as Diethylstilbestrol (DES) can increase chances of cervical cancer. These chances are reduced once the medications are stopped.
  • Heredity: Having a family history of cervical cancer increases chances of the disease in the future generations.
  • Sexual interaction: Unprotected sexual intercourse with multiple sexual partners or having sexual activities at a very young age increases risks of HPV infection.
  • Pregnancies: Giving birth to three or more children can increase risks of cervical cancer.

Symptoms of cervical cancer

Cervical cancer is manifested through the following symptoms-

  • Abnormal and excessive vaginal bleeding after sexual intercourse, menopause, pelvic examination or douching
  • Bleeding between consecutive menstrual cycles
  • Prolonged menstrual periods with heavy flow
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge (other than blood) with a foul smell
  • Painful intercourse
  • Post-coital spotting
  • Pain in the lower abdomen and pelvic region which gradually radiates to the back causing lower back pain
  • Nausea, vomiting, and lethargy
  • Swelling and pain in legs

Types of cervical cancer

Cervical cancers are broadly classified into three categories depending on the type of cell affected. These are as follows –

  • Squamous cell carcinoma: They constitute about 9-10% of cervical cancer cases. These kinds of malignancies usually originate from cells present in the outer surface of the exocervix. They exhibit features of squamous cells when examined under a microscope. The site of origin of squamous cell carcinoma is usually the junction of the exocervix and endocervix.
  • Adenocarcinoma: These types of cervical cancers originate from the gland cells of endocervix that secrete mucus.
  • Adenosquamous carcinoma: It exhibits characteristics of both squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. It is also called mixed carcinoma.

Another classification of cervical cancer is done based on the nature of malignancy. This is described below-

  • Microinvasive cervical cancer: In this case, the cancerous cells only break through the bottom layer of the cervical lining.
  • Invasive cervical cancer: In this condition, the cancerous cells are transmitted from the outer layer of the cervix to the inner layer of tissues. Gradually it spreads to the vagina, lymph nodes and adjoining tissues as well.

Stages of cervical cancer

Cervical cancer normally starts from the cells forming the inner linings of the cervix, more correctly, from the lower portion of the uterus. Hence it is also called uterine cancer and it usually progresses through the following stages-

  • Stage I: In this stage, the malignant cells are present only within the cervix.
  • Stage II: Tumour growth occurs and it breaks through the skin of the cervix and penetrates the upper portion of the vagina. It may also invade other adjoining tissues or the lower portion of the vagina.
  • Stage III: The tumor penetrates through the lower portion of the vagina and the pelvic wall. Bigger tumors may obstruct the urinary tubes and lead to kidney dysfunctions.
  • Stage IV: The tumor invades the urinary bladder and rectum. Cancer cells also spread to other parts of the body such as liver, lungs, and bones.

Diagnosis

The following diagnostic tests are recommended for cervical cancers-

Treatment & Prevention

While there are no definitive ways to prevent cervical cancer, many cases of this type of cancer can be prevented by regular Pap Tests or Pap smear, which is a screening procedure for the HPV or Humanpapilloma virus.

This can help detect the invasion of the virus before it turns cancerous in nature.

Other effective preventive measures include vaccination, practicing healthy lifestyle habits such as no smoking, and following safe sexual practice.

Treatment of a case of cervical cancer depends on the degree of the spread of the cancer. The treatment methodologies include surgery, radiation therapies, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy. Patients and their families are advised to take a second opinion on the diagnosis of cancer in order to decide on the treatment course.

Cervical cancers detected at an advanced stage may call for surgical intervention. Protected sexual activities and healthy dietary habits can curb the spread of the disease to a considerable extent.

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Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Avoid toxins and carcinogens like tobacco and high trans-fats.
  • Have a physically active lifestyle and indulge in regular exercises.
  • Consume enough vitamin D and perform safe sex.
Don'ts
  • Consume high sugary diet or alcohol.
  • Indulge in risky sexual activities. Keep sexual partners to a minimum.
  • Overlook menstrual irregularities, pelvic bleeding, pain during sex, or any abnormal vaginal discharge.

 

 

 

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Shilajit: A miracle Himalayan herb for an active and happy life The Himalayas contain more wonders than you thought. Shilajit is a miracle herb that is widely used in…
Jack in the box fast food
Jack In the Box : The perils of surging fast food culture in the USA Jack in the Box - How a culture of fast-food can clog your arteries, weaken your heart, fatten…
anti ds dna test
Anti Ds-DNA antibody Test The  Anti Ds-DNA antibody test is used to diagnose the disease called lupus or more aptly the SLE(Systematic…
Ca 19.9 test
CA19.9 Test CA 19.9 is a cancer antigen that exists on the surface of cancer-causing cells. The levels of CA…
These are the top foods to increase your hemoglobin count It is important to add iron-rich foods into your diet in order to increase hemoglobin. Deficiency of hemoglobin could…
Vagus nerve: 7 health benefits of stimulating the “gut-brain” connection As a matter of fact, there are two vagus nerves namely the left and the right but is…
Chest X-Ray A chest x-ray is a diagnostic test that uses x-rays to visualize the structures inside your chest. It…
CLA: A breakthrough weight loss supplement with minimal side effects Tried every weight loss supplement in the market with no substantial gain? Why not try CLA supplements, derived…
HSV-1_IGG
Herpes Simplex Virus I (HSV)-IgG Test Herpes simplex virus I(HSV)-IgG is an Immunoglobulin protein that acts as an antibody & stays in the blood…
vdrl test syphilis
VDRL Test The VDRL test is a blood test that is used to diagnose sexually transmitted or venereal diseases, primarily…
What is Qigong and how can it help you channelize you inner “Qi”? Qigong is an integrated way of performing a traditional exercise regimen that can help in promoting health, mental…
Tissue Transglutaminase Antibody (tTG) Test Transglutaminase is an enzyme present in our body and is involved in protein metabolism. A tTg test is…
6 arguments in favour of glucosamine and where can you find it Studies have shown that glucosamine works by preventing the breakdown of cartilage of the joints. This is usually…
xylitol gum
Xylitol : Is this the right sugar substitute for you? Discovered during World War 2 owing to sugar shortage, xylitol has become a common name in pharamaceutical industry.…
vital organ diseases
Common diseases that could cripple your vital organs Brain, heart, kidney, lungs, and liver - these vital organs are indeed vital for your survival. However, these…
Cordyceps: How the Caterpillar fungus works as a proven cancer-shield Strange as it may sound, but cordyceps or "caterpillar fungus", a fungus variety native to the Himalayas may…
reflexology massage
Top reasons why you should go for a reflexology massage today Reflexology involves the application of pressure to your feet and hands to encourage self-healing. Could this be beneficial…
General adaptation syndrome: Understanding stress, one step at a time The struggle of the body to produce hormones during a stressful situation is the main theme of general…
Bronchoscopy procedure
Bronchoscopy Bronchoscopy is a procedure where in a scope is inserted into the lung pathway to observe any growth…
Thyroid disorders
Thyroid Profile Thyroid profile is a panel of blood tests performed to check if an individual is suffering from any…
Tamarind: The top health benefits of this staple Asian ingredient Did you know this sweet and sour pulpy fruit does more than just add a tangy flavor to…
Hibiscus: Nourish your beauty and health with these vibrant blooms Hibiscus is a trumpet shaped flower found abundantly in tropical countries. It has been historically used for its…
Erythritol: A healthy sugar substitute or yet another marketing ploy? Erythritol is a popular choice of a healthy alternative sweetening agent in foods. But how healthy can a…
Trisodium Phosphate: How a paint thinner made its way into your breakfast Ever thought how toxic chemicals find their way into our foods? How can they harm our body? And…
folate test
Folate test The Folate test measures and monitors the levels of folic acid in the blood. This test is also…
Psyllium Husk: More than just an effective natural laxative Psyllium husk, or isabgol, is a popular natural laxative . But did you in addition to regulating bowels,…
Alp enzyme-test
ALP test – Alkaline Phosphate ALP or alkaline phosphate is an enzyme mainly produced by the liver and gallbladder. ALP test measures the…
iron deficiency profile
Iron Deficiency Profile An iron deficiency profile is a battery of blood tests which are performed in order to determine the…
edamame
Edamame: How healthy are these green baby beans? Edamame or "immature" soybeans are soft and easily digestable forms of soybeans that are great as an eveyday…
antiHEV IgM test
Anti hepatitis E virus (Anti HEV) IgM Test Anti HEV IgM test determines the level of the IgM antibodies in the blood, The disease is often…
sodium chloride
Halotherapy: How inhaling salt can work wonders for your body Halotherapy is quickly gaining popularity amongst those with respiratory diseases. It has shown promise in its treatment.
Love tea, hate tannins? Rooibos tea is just what you need The market is brimming with a multitude of herbal teas. But what makes rooibos tea (or red bush)…

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