Cervical cancer

Finding out that you have cancer is a very scary thing. There are many forms of cancer that one can get, however cervical cancer is a cancer that can only affect women. Cervical cancer can be treated successfully if found in the earliest stages. This is why having a yearly Pap test is crucial for all woman. Pap tests can detect the beginning signs of cancer that may be forming on the cervix.

Cervical cancer is caused by a virus. Referred to as the HPV or Human Papillomavirus, it is contracted through sexual contact with another person carrying the virus. There are various strains of the HPV virus that one can contract. Some of them can cause genital warts, some cause cervical cancer and some do no harm at all. The HPV virus can live inside a person’s body for many years without being detected. Years after contracting the virus, the cervical cancer can begin to develop unexpectedly. If you avoid getting a routine Pap test, you could miss the very crucial window in which the earliest signs of cervical cancer can be detected and cured.

The beginning signs of cervical cancer usually start with the cells of the cervix changing. The changed cells may not necessarily be cancer right away, however once the change has occurred the cancer may soon develop. The problem with cervical cell changes is that most of them go un-noticed. They do not cause many symptoms for the woman so the woman may not ever know what is going on inside her own body. However, if the cervical cell changes go un-noticed and the cells do change into a cancerous state, the symptoms may start as abnormal bleeding, menstrual changes, having pain during sexual intercourse or having discharge from the vagina that has a pink or brownish color. If any of these signs are noticed, you should contact your doctor for an exam to be checked out.

The good news is that if the changing cervical cells are detected early on, treatment can be done to cure the problem before they turn into cancer. However, once the cells have turned cancerous you can expect to need one or more of the following treatments. A hysterectomy is the removal of the uterus, often including the cervix and parts of the vagina. Removal of the lymph nodes, ovaries and fallopian tubes may also be necessary to prevent the cancer from spreading to other parts of the female reproductive tract. Radiation therapy and Chemotherapy may also be necessary to rid the body of the cancer.

In order to prevent from contracting HPV a woman must take precautions when engaging in sexual activity from the beginning. Since many people can carry the virus and never know it, using protection during sexual intercourse is an extremely important preventative measure. Limiting the amount of sexual partners that one has will also lessen the chances as well. The best way to avoid contracting the virus is to practice abstinence. There is a new vaccine that has become available for girls ages 11- 26. It is called Gardasil and it helps prevent a woman from contracting four types of HPV that can cause genital warts as well as cervical cancer. If you are interested in receiving this vaccination, talk to your doctor to see if you are a candidate for receiving the vaccination. If you are past the age of 26 and are concerned about developing cervical cancer, make sure you receive your yearly Pap test at your gynecologist’s office. Unfortunately many women do not receive yearly medical exams. Make sure you make your appointment so you can catch any early signs of cervical cancer before it fully develops.

Last updated on Dec 19th, 2009 and filed under Cancer Research. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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