What is cervical cancer? According to Medical dictionaries it is a disease in which cells of the cervix become abnormal and start to grow uncontrollably forming tumors. It begins on the surface of the cervix and can penetrate deep beneath the surface. The cancer can spread directly to nearby tissues, including the vagina. It can also enter into the rich network of small blood and lymphatic vessels inside the cervix, which spreads to other parts of the body.
What are the types of cervical cancer? There are three types of cervical cancer:
- Squamous cell carcinomas. This most common type is made up of cells that cover the surface of the cervix.
- Adenocarcinomas. This type starts in the gland cells that make mucus.
- Adenosquamous carcinomas. This type has the features of both the squamous and adenosquamos cell cancers.
These are some factors that can increase a woman's chance of developing cervical cancer:
- Sexual practices. Cervical cancer was discovered by Harald zur Hausen of Germany in 1983 after 10 years of studying different types of Human Papillomaviruses (HPV) and discovering HPV 16 as tumorigenic among cervical cancer biopsies. In 1984, he discovered HPV 18 by cloning HPV 16 and 18 from patients with cervical cancer. These types are commonly found among cervical cancer biopsies contributing to 70% of cervical cancer throughout the world. Human Papillomaviruses are wart-producing viruses. Of the more than 100 types, only about 40 infect the genitals. Of these 40 types, 15 are cancer-producing among females. Today, researchers disclosed that 99% of cervical cancers are due to HPV infection through these sexual practices. (a) Age of the woman's first sexual contact. Having sex before age 18 increases the risk of HPV infection. (b) The number of partners The more sex partners a woman will have, the higher the risk. (c) Having intercourse with men whose previous partners have cervical cancer. (d) Women whose partners are HPV infected. (e) The presence of other sexually transmitted diseases such as herpes.
- Long-term use of birth control pills (more than 5 years). The risk declines as she stops the pill.
- Women who have three or more full-term pregnancies.
- Women who are younger than 17 years when they had their firs full-term pregnancy.
- Family history. When the mother and other females in the maternal side had cervical cancer, the risk is two to three times higher.
- Being overweight.
Be alarmed if you have any of these symptoms:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding between periods, after intercourse or menopause.
- Increase vaginal discharge that may be foul smelling or contains mucus.
- Periods become heavier and last longer than usual.