May is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. According to the United Nations, more than 250,000 women die each year from cervical cancer worldwide, with 85 percent of these coming from low- and middle-income nations. In the Philippines, 6,000 women are diagnosed yearly.
The cervix is a part of a woman’s reproductive system. It is the lower end of the uterus that connects to the vagina.
Human Papillomavirus, or HPV, is a viral infection that causes skin or mucous membrane growth (warts). It may be transmitted sexually or through skin-to-skin contact. Most strains do not lead to cancer. However, several strains of HPV play a role in causing cervical cancer.
Signs and Symptoms of Cervical Cancer
Early-stage cervical cancer generally produces no signs or symptoms. Presentation of more-advanced cervical cancer include:
1. Abnormal vaginal bleeding
Most women with cervical cancer experience vaginal bleeding after or during sexual intercourse, after menopause and between periods. As the cancer spreads to nearby tissues in the cervix, abnormal capillaries develop that break easily and cause bleeding.
2. Pain during intercourse
This symptom may indicate that cervical cancer has progressed to the tissues and reproductive organs.
3. Hip pain
Hip pain is common in women, particularly if they have dysmenorrhea. However, if the pain lasts longer than usual, it may possibly be a sign of cervical cancer. A woman suffering from cervical cancer may experience hip pain at an unexpected time. This symptom does not appear until the cancer is severe.
4. Abnormal vaginal discharge
It is normal for women to produce fluid that is clear and odorless. However, if the discharge is excessive, smelly, or unusual in appearance, it could be a sign of cervical cancer. When there is cervical cancer, the discharge may be brown, watery, and mixed with blood.
5. Pain in the genitals while urinating
This symptom along with frequent urination and changes in the appearance of urine occurs when the cancer reaches nearby tissue.
Cervical Cancer Screening Tests
Most cases of cervical cancer can be prevented if abnormal cells in the cervix are detected and treated early. To reduce the risk of having cervical cancer, the following may be done:
• Widespread immunization with the HPV vaccine could reduce the impact of cervical cancer and other cancers caused by HPV worldwide. HPV vaccines can prevent most cases of cervical cancer if the vaccine is given before girls or women are exposed to the virus. This vaccine can also prevent vaginal and vulvar cancer. In addition, the vaccine can prevent genital warts, anal cancers, and mouth, throat, head and neck cancers in women and men.
Routine Pap smear
• The most basic screening test for cervical cancer is a Pap Test or better known as a Pap Smear. In the Pap Test, the doctor uses a speculum to examine the vagina and cervix and to take cells and mucus from the cervix. These cells will be examined to detect precancerous conditions of the cervix. , so they can be monitored or treated to prevent cervical cancer.
Practice of safe sex
• Reducing the risk of cervical cancer by taking measures to prevent sexually transmitted infections, like using a condom and limiting the number of sexual partners.
If you have at least one of these symptoms, you should see a doctor right away because early detection is the most effective way to beat cancer or any infection that you may have. Call Medgate today to find out more about Cervical Cancer!