Facts You Should Know About Cervical Cancer

Did you Know smoking can increase risk of Cervical Cancer?

Cervical Cancer and Smoking

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that the risk of cervical cancer increased in women who were smokers and in women who were exposed to secondhand smoke even after other factors, such as sexual activity, were considered. Women who were exposed to three or more hours of smoke a day had about three times the risk of cervical cancer, and current smokers were found to have 3.4 times the risk of cervical cancer.

How Smoking May Cause Cervical Cancer

The way smoking contributes to cervical cancer is not fully understood. But researchers believe tobacco smoke combined with HPV might become a cervical cancer cause because:

  • Smoking might prevent the body’s immune system from effectively fighting HPV.
  • Carcinogens from smoking amplify the effect of HPV infection in cervical cells.
  • Carcinogens from smoking may move the cancer-growing genetic code more quickly from the virus to cervical cells, especially with the strains of HPV that pose the greatest risk of causing cancer.

Preventing cervical cancer:

  • Better hygiene
  • Avoid multiple sex partners
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Get regular Pap smears.
  • Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
  • Use a condom.
  • Refrain from smoking

Bottom line: You can act to lower your risk of cervical cancer. Reducing your exposure to smoke is among the best steps you can take.

Are you listening to your body? Learn the symptoms and get the inside facts about Cervical Cancer

Come January, it not only marks the beginning of a new year with new resolutions, but also reminds us about the awareness for cervical cancer. While developed nations have almost won their battle against cervical cancer, developing nations like India are still lagging behind. In 2018, 60078 deaths (20 percent of world mortality) and 96922 new cases have been reported making it the 3rd most common and 4th deadliest cancer in India. (Ref: Globocan 2018, International Association of Research in Cancer, IARC, WHO) So, Indians, its high time you should put behind shame and superstitions and make yourself and others aware about a cancer which is not only completely preventable but also curable. 

Possible cause of Cervical Cancer

Almost 90% of cervical cancer is caused by high-risk HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) infection. HPV is commonly found in vaginal flora of women, but most healthy women clear it off. But there are some risk factors which results in persistence of infection and this causes some oncogenic changes in the cervix resulting in cervical cancer. The risk factors are:
1. Poor Hygiene
2. Multiple sex partners
3. Prolonged use of Oral Contraceptive Pill
4. Smoking
5. Increased number of child births
6. Co-existence of HIV infection

Preventing cervical cancer:

  • Better hygiene
  • Avoid multiple sex partners
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Get regular Pap smears.
  • Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
  • Use a condom.
  • Refrain from smoking


Do you know early screening can prevent cervical cancer?

One of the most common cancers in women, cervical cancer begins in the tissues of the cervix – an area that connects the vagina to the uterus in women. Cervical cancer is the only female cancer which is not only completely preventable but also completely curable in early stages.

Measure to prevent from acquiring cancer
Screening:

The WHO recommends screening of women aged 30 to 49 years either through visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA) in low resource setting or by conventional PAP smear testing every 3-5 years. In higher centres HPV virus testing is also available to be done every 5 years.  In United States and United Kingdom, screening is recommended much earlier, 21 years and should continue till 60-65 years.

Vaccine:

Vaccines are also available against high-risk HPV viruses. 3 doses to be given to school going girls of 9-13 years to achieve maximum immunity. But vaccines will not provide complete immunity. 
Thus, the integration of both screening program and vaccination has the potential to virtually eliminate the burden of cervical cancer 

Precautions to prevent occurrence

  • Better hygiene
  • Use of barrier contraceptives during intercourse
  • Avoid multiple sex partners
  • Refrain from smoking are few simple steps that will prevent the cancer to happen

Available Treatment

Pre-cancerous lesions of cervix can be managed by Colposcopy guided ablative or excision procedures done at OPD basis. Treatment of Invasive Cervical Cancer depends on the stage of the disease. For early stages surgery is recommended. Radical hysterectomy with pelvic node dissection is surgery of choice. Can be done by open, laparoscopic or robotic techniques. For locally advanced cases radiation therapy is recommended. For distant metastasis treatment option is palliative chemotherapy where we only alleviate the symptoms of the patient. 

How good/ bad is the prognosis? 

Survival is very good compared to other female cancers. The 5-year survival for Stage 1 its almost 80-90%. For Stage 2 its 60-70%, Stage 3 its 40-50% and even for Stage 4 (last stage) its almost 30%. 

Cervical cancer is the only female cancer which is not only completely preventable but also completely curable in early stages. So, you should spread this word. Your one word will save thousands of innocents dying women.

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