Cancer ranks among the most dreaded ailments that could plague the lives of many young women; and perhaps the most dreaded pronouncement any young lady would ever want to hear from any doctor.
Cancer in women comes with several faces:
- vaginal and
As a group, they are known as gynaecologic cancer.
In this article, am going to be talking about cervical cancer; something that I have had a personal experience with; with the hope that this write up will go a long way to helping those with the ailment and as well as help prevent many women from inviting cervical cancer into their lives.
What is cervical cancer?
Cancer refers to the situation where the cells in the body grow out of proportion and control. Cancer is usually named after the part of the body from which it starts its growth even if it were to spread to other part of the body later on.
Therefore, cervical cancer is the cancer that starts from the cervix. The cervix is the narrow lower end of the uterus which connects the vaginal with the upper part of the uterus. The baby grows in the uterus when a woman is pregnant.
It also happens to be the easiest gynaecologic cancer to prevent with regular screening tests and follow-up.
The good news is that, it’s treatable when discovered early enough. It is most likely to occur in women above 30 years of age.
Symptoms of cervical cancer
During the early stages of cervical cancer, when the tumour is still relatively small, there may be no symptoms at all.
However, as the tumour grows in size, the first noticeable symptoms is abnormal vaginal bleeding such as:
- Bleeding between normal periods (inter-menstrual bleeding).
- Bleeding just after sexual intercourse (post-coital bleeding).
- Vaginal bleeding in any woman past menopause.
In some cases, in the early stages there is a vaginal discharge with unpleasant smell, or discomfort or pain during sexual intercourse.
You have to bear in mind as well, that all the above symptoms or any of them could be caused by various other ailments or infections that have similar symptoms.
It is advised to go for a medical check-up by a qualified doctor to ascertain the real ailment if you observe any of the above symptoms.
Causes of cervical cancer
Almost all cervical cancers are caused by HPV (human papillomavirus). Women who started having sex at an early age or with partners who have had sex with several others are more likely to have HPV.
It should be noted that any woman who has ever has sexual partner/partners is at risk for HPV.
HPV comes in several forms. Normally, HPV does go away on its own, but when it doesn’t, this could eventually lead to cervical cancer. In addition to having HPV, the habits or conditions could also increase your risk of cervical cancer:
- Having HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) or any other condition that makes it pretty hard for your body to fight-off diseases and infections.
- Using birth control pills for a prolonged period of time (five years or above).
- Having given birth to three or more children.
Treating Cervical cancer
There are a couple of options when it comes to treating cervical cancer such as:
- surgery (which is aimed at completely removing the uterus or cervix)
- radiotherapy (using high energy beams focussed at killing the cancerous cells)
- chemotherapy (using anti-cancer drugs) or
- a combination of these treatments.
The treatment given to each patient differs and depends on a variety of factors. Take for instance, it could depend on the stage of the cancer (how large the primary cancer tumour is and how far it has spread), and the general health of the patient.
In conclusion, when it comes to cervical cancer, it’s advised to consult and have a full discussion with a specialist who is familiar with your case. The specialist would be in a better position to give the pros and cons, the success rate, possible side-effects as well as other details on the various possible treatment options for the particular type and stage of the cancer.
Cervical cancer is sur not an ailment that any woman should wish for, but it’s treatable and as well can be prevented; especially when found out early enough.
I do hope this post will be of some benefits to every woman out there.