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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Pescatarian Diet 101: What are the inherent health advantages of this diet? People opt to become a pescatarian in order to enrich their bodies with the essential health benefits that…
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…
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…
What is the right way to take a pregnancy test? A pregnancy test is undertaken to determine if you have conceived. A home pregnancy test is the most…
Gua sha: Scraping away layers of pain with this ancient healing tool Gua sha is an ancient oriental healing method which focuses on scraping the body with specific tools to…
SIBO Diet: The important dos and don’ts of this gut-healing diet A SIBO diet is a diet that works by eliminating certain sugars from your diet and adding fibers…
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…
Okra: How can this nutrient-dense vegetable help you fight diabetes? Okra is a food which is rich in nutrients and minerals which are extremely essential for a healthy…
shiitake mushrooms healthy
What are Shiitake Mushrooms and why should you eat them? Shiitake Mushrooms are well known for their smoky and robust taste. However, did you know they are replete…
woman with abdominal pain holding ovulation calendar
Ovulation – facts to know about ovulation Learn how and when ovulation occurs, demystify common misconceptions, identify symptoms, methods of detection and right period for…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
sugar toxic health
Sugar: 7 new shocking truths revealed about the sweet poison Can drinking soda bring you closer to death? Is sugar slowly poisoning you and your family? You would…
How seitan proved to be a blessing in disguise for vegans worldwide Can only meat-eaters enjoy delicious juicy steaks and burgers? With seitan, the best meat substitute available today,even vegans…
How can berberine supplements help you live longer and healthier? Berberine is a turmeric look-alike herbal extract that is credited with numerous health benefits ranging from diabetes cure…
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…
The Cabbage Soup Diet: The healthiest way to instant weight loss Cabbage soup diet rapid weight loss diet for those who want to shed those extra pounds in less…
shakeology woman
Meal replacement or protein drink? Learn all about Shakeology and its claims Shakeology from Beachbody claims to be the most suitable shake that can aid in weight loss, regulate blood…
CERULOPLASMIN- triple marker
Triple Marker Test A triple marker test is an important prenatal test that is performed to detect the presence of chromosomal…
apolipoprotein a1 test
Apolipoprotein -A1 (APO-A1) Test Apolipoprotein A-I (Apo-A1) constitutes 70% of protein content in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and helps in lipid metabolism.
piles fissure fistula
Allopathy vs homeopathy vs ayurveda treatment for piles, fissures, and fistula Read to know the best form of treatment among allopathy, homeopathy,or ayurveda for piles, fissures, and fistula
improve digestion weight loss
Power up your gut: 8 proven steps on how to improve your digestion Did you know you have a colony of bacteria in your gut that help you in digesting food?…
10 reasons why you should up your selenium intake Selenium, though a trace mineral, is very much integral to your health. Find out how much selenium intake…
waterchestnut
Water Chestnuts: The tastiest ways to include this healthy tuber in your diet Water chestnut is not a nut after all. It is a tuber (much like the potatoes) growing close…
Urologist: When should you visit one and why? A urologist can treat not only genitourinary problems of both men and women but also can treat various…
hemoglobin variant analysis
Hemoglobin Variant Analysis Hemoglobin variant analysis is a blood test that is used to detect the presence of hemoglobin variants which…
valproic acid test
Valproic Acid Test Valproic acid test is performed to generally check for psychiatric and even neurological conditions such as bipolar disease…
fructosamine test
Fructosamine Test A fructosamine test measures blood sugar glucose content. Fructosamine level can indicate blood sugar level in past 2-3…
anoscopy
Anoscopy Anoscopy is an invasive diagnostic procedure where a small device known as anoscope will be inserted in the…
thyroxine t4 test
T4 (Thyroxine) Hormone Test The T4 or thyroxine blood test is an important diagnostic tool that gives a clear picture of how…
malarial antigen test
Malaria Antigen Test A malaria antigen test is a rapid diagnostic test (RDT) that can detect malarial antigens (proteins) in your…
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…
Moringa drink
Moringa: This could be the most nutrient-dense food known to us! Moringa is a lush green tree brimming with over 90 essential nutrients required for a healthy mind and…
Agave nectar: The bitter truth about this sweetener revealed Agave nectar is considered to be sweeter than the normal table sugar and even contains higher amounts of…
Bromelain: 11 reasons why you should start adding pineapple to your pizza! If you didn't love pineapples already, here are some of the top health benefits that bromelain can bring…
Cayenne: The remarkable benefits of these red hot chili peppers These may make you rush for a glass of water, but cayenne pepper is actually a healthy additive…
Exercises or diet? Find out the healthiest way to gain weight Tired of being called skinny all the time? Looking for healthy ways to beef up? Why not try…
The right way to prepare Alfalfa sprouts at home Alfalfa or lusan ghas is not just a nutritious animal fodder. This flavonoid-rich herb has some amazing health…
Carb Cycling: Weighing the pros vs the cons of this diet routine Completely discarding carbs from your life will do you more harm than good. Read more about carb cycling,…
How to scrub away stress and fatigue with an Epsom salt bath? Epsom salt is a popular home remedy for many skin ailments. Though there is a lack of scientific…
biopsy procedure
Biopsy Biopsy is a procedure of studying a live tissue sample collected from a specific organ for diagnosing a…
lipase test
Lipase Test A lipase test is a blood test performed to quantitatively measure the level of the enzyme lipase in…
blood ketone test
Blood Ketone (D3HB) Test The Blood Ketone Test measures and monitors the levels of ketone in the blood which is usually performed…
Rheumatoid Arthritis xray
Arthritis Profile Arthritis profile is a panel of primarily blood tests used to detect the presence of arthritis or check…
social media adddiction
Your health in the age of Social Media: Why is digital detox a necessity? Did you know that more than 400 million people are dangerously addicted to social media? Are you one…
lose weight fast
12 easy and instant steps to successful weight loss Do you want to lose weight without losing your mind? Does weight loss always mean saying goodbye to…
acne removal tips
Anatomy of acne: 7 instant steps to kiss those zits goodbye Blackheads, whiteheads, or pimples-call them what you may. Acne is never good news.Did you know some of the…
L-theanine attention
L-Theanine: Better sleep, higher focus, and many other benefits Did you know that L-theanine found in green tea can make you sleep better and be focused at…
High Fiber Diet – Fire up your fiber intake for these health benefits! Regular bowels, healthy detox, higher immunity, and guaranteed weight loss - a high fiber diet can bring all…

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