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A Guide to Cervical Cancer: Are you Aware of its Symptoms and Treatment?

B
Bajaj Finserv Health
February 3rd, 2022
8 mins read

Key Takeaways

  • Experiencing pain during sex is one of the cervical cancer symptoms
  • Pap test is a common cervical cancer screening test you should undergo
  • Cervical cancer treatment is possible with the help of surgery or radiation

Cancer is a condition in which some of your body’s cells begin to grow in an uncontrolled manner. If not detected early, it can spread to other parts of your body as well. When such changes in cell growth occur in your cervix, it causes cervical cancer. The cervix is present at the lowermost part of the uterus and connects the vagina with the uterus. If you do not undergo a cervical cancer screening at the right time, it can spread to deeper tissues of your cervix and affect other vital organs like your liver, bladder, and rectum. 

Around 29% of women in India are affected by cervical cancer [1]. Many confuse this condition with uterine cancer. Read on to know more about cervical cancer symptoms and how it differs from uterine cancer

Cervical Cancer Symptoms

If cervical cancer is in the early stage, you may show no obvious symptoms and signs. When it advances, you may have symptoms such as:

  • Pain in your pelvic regions 
  • Presence of watery vaginal discharge with traces of blood in it
  • Bleeding of vagina in between the period cycle, after intercourse or post menopause
  • Feeling uncomfortable during intercourse
  • Strong odor in vaginal discharge 

cervical cancer

In case the cancer spreads to other parts, you may also experience the following symptoms:

  • Bone pain
  • Kidney failure
  • Trouble in urinating
  • Lack of appetite
  • Loss of weight
  • Swollen legs
  • Fatigue

Cervical Cancer Causes

Cervical cancer originates when your tissues start developing certain unusual changes. In most cases, it is linked to infections caused by human papilloma virus or HPV [2]. HPV can cause types of warts like genital warts, skin warts and other types of skin disorders. There are a few strains of HPV responsible for causing cancer in tongue, vagina, and tonsils. Though HPV is not the main cause of this condition, it is known to play a role.

When your healthy cervical cells undergo mutations, these cells begin to grow in an uncontrollable manner. Normally, cells grow and die after a set period. When this normal process is hampered, a mass of abnormal cells begins to accumulate, thereby causing cancer.

Cervical Cancer Types

When the right type of cancer is identified by your doctors, your prognosis and treatment become easier. The two main types of cervical cancer are squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. In the first type, cancer occurs in squamous cells that line the outer part of your cervix. If it is adenocarcinoma, the cells begin to multiply in glandular cells that are usually found in cervical canal. It occurs commonly in these two types of cells. It is very rare for this condition to occur in other cells of your cervix.

PCOD vs. PCOS

Risk factors associated with Cervical Cancer

There are many risk factors that can contribute to this condition. 

  • If you have a weak immune system, you are more prone to developing this condition
  • Having sex with multiple partners can increase the risk of HPV infections
  • Smoking can cause squamous cervical cancer
  • Having sex at a young age
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Birth control pills

Cervical Cancer Diagnosis

Cervical cancer screening tests help in detecting precancerous cells that may have the tendency to develop into cancerous ones. Doctors advise taking such tests after the age of 21. Two of the most common screening tests for detecting this condition are:

  • Pap test in which your gynecologist scrapes a few cells from your cervix for further analysis in laboratory
  • HPV DNA test in which your cervical cells are tested for the presence of HPV as it plays a role in cervical cancer

Some of the other diagnostic tests include:

  • Punch biopsy
  • Endocervical curettage
  • Cone biopsy
  • Imaging tests
  • Visual examination of your rectum and bladder

Cervical Cancer Treatment Options

The treatment mode depends on the severity of your condition. Surgery is an option if the cancer is in its early stage. You may undergo a surgery to remove only the cervix or both the cervix and the uterus so that cancer does not spread to other parts. 

You can also opt for radiation therapy, which uses high energy beams to kill cancerous cells. This therapy can be given both internally and externally. In the internal mode, a device containing radioactive material will be placed inside your vagina. If you choose the external mode, the radiation beam will be directed to the affected part of your body. 

Additional read: Radiotherapy for Cancer: Here’s What You Need to Know! A Complete Guide

Differences between cervical and uterine cancer

While you may now know that cervical cancer affects your cervix, it is different from uterine cancer. The latter affects the mucosal cells lining your uterus and is more severe when compared to cervical cancer. In uterine cancer, you may experience heavy unusual bleeding in the early phase itself.

Additional read: Uterine Cancer: What Are the 2 Types and How are They Diagnosed and Treated?

All this highlights the importance of women’s health checkups. Go for such tests annually so that you do not ignore any warning signs related to your reproductive health. Educate yourself on facts about menopause and perimenopause as well so that you can address your health better. If you have any concerns, connect to top gynecologists on Bajaj Finserv Health. Book an online doctor consultation and solve your queries from the comfort of your home. You can also get your tests done by booking them online right here. Remember, prevention is always better than cure!

A Guide to Cervical Cancer: Are you Aware of its Symptoms and Treatment?-banner

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