Experts say when detected early, there are high chances of complete recovery.
Unfortunately, symptoms of cervical cancer rarely show up in the beginning. Instead, they usually start showing when the cancer is fast progressing. Symptoms include unusual vaginal discharge, unexpected bleeding between periods, bleeding even after reaching menopause, bleeding or unbearable pain while having sex.
The top cause of cervical cancer is the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is a large group of viruses. Almost 40 types of HPV can infect the genital area. Experts say that these HPV infections usually tend to get cured on their own. however, if they keep getting recurrent, it can lead to changes in the cells of the cervix, which may then lead to cancer.
Studies say that HPV is so common that every sexually active person will get it at least once in their life. While condoms lower the risk of getting HPV, they don’t fully protect one against the virus. It is when a high-risk strain of HPV stays back in the body, that it can cause abnormal cells to develop in the cervix and these over time, may become cancerous.
The Pap Smear test is the best ways for early detection of cervical cancer. A swab of the cervix is taken. And it can reveal abnormal cells, sometimes even before the cancer appears. Once a woman crosses 30, experts recommend a pap test every three years. If your test reveals abnormal cells that are precancerous, your doctor can remove them so that they don’t develop into cancer. Another test, the HPV DNA test checks for the presence of high-risk forms of HPV.
An abnormal pap smear test leads to a biopsy, in which cervical tissue is removed so that it can be examined for abnormal changes, precancerous cells or cancer cells.
There are five stages in cervical cancer — stage 0 is when cancer cells are found only on the surface of the cervix. In Stage I, the cancer hasn’t spread beyond the cervix and in stage II, the tumour has spread to the upper part of the vagina. In stage II, the tumour extends to the lower part of the vagina. Finally, in stage IV, the tumour has reached the bladder or rectum, or cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body.
Experts say that surgery is recommended to remove any tissue that might contain cancer. A combination of radiation and chemotherapy is also usually done.