How I Knew I Had Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix or starts from the cervix. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. The cervix is a hollow cylinder that connects the lower part of a woman’s uterus to her vagina.
Most cervical cancers begin in cells on the surface of the cervix. Different strains of the human papilloma virus (HPV), which is a sexually transmitted infection has a role in causing most cervical cancer. When one is exposed to HPV, the body’s immune system prevents the virus from causing harm to the body.
In some people, however, the virus is capable of surviving for years, contributing to the process during the growth of cervical cells to becoming cancerous.
WHAT IS HUMAN PAPILLOMA VIRUS (HPV)
HPV is an infection caused by a virus that affects the skin or the lining mucosa of the mouth, throat, respiratory tract, or anus. It is grouped into low and high-risk types due to the severity of the infection it causes.
Low-risk HPV strains cause genital warts while high-risk types cause cervical cancer. HPV infection also causes cancers of the mouth, throat, anus or rectum. The virus spreads through skin to skin contact during sexual intercourse either vaginal, anal, or oral with someone who is infected with the virus. HPV can also spread through sharing infected objects like sexual aids or razors, etc.
The signs and symptoms of HPV may include warts on the genitals or surrounding skin. Most times, HPV goes on its own without causing health problems and can be diagnosed by using the dry penile and anal swab can be done for men and abnormal smear result in female.
Routine screening using either a pap smear or the more sensitive liquid-based cytology (LBC) method is ideal for detection since HPV usually causes pre cancer lesion that can easily be treated and cured before a full blown cervical cancer is developed.
HOW I KNEW I HAD CERVICAL CANCER
Below are typical symptoms that one would know she has cervical cancer:
1. Unusual bleeding mostly between periods, after sex and after when reaching menopause
2. Unpleasant vaginal discharge that smells and looks very different that is usually accompanied with blood.
3. Usually had severe pain in my pelvis
4. Frequently urination more than usual which is accompanied by severe pains
5. Itchy or burning sensation around vagina became very prominent
6. Unexplained abdominal bloating
7. My monthly flow became heavier and lasted longer than usual.
8. Severe vagina bleeding during pelvic examinations
9. Abnormal leg swellings
10. Unintentional weight gain or loss is experienced
11. Bladder issues
12. Severe back pain is usually experienced
13. Fluid collection
14. Pains during intercourse
15. Difficulty in breathing
Note: Some of these symptoms may be found in those with fibroid and pelvic inflammatory disease and are not perculiar to cervical cancer only.
STAGES OF CERVICAL CANCER
Stages involved in the full maturation of cervical cancer include:
Stage 0: Precancerous cells are present.
Stage 1: Cancerous cells have grown from the surface ito deeper tissues of the cervix and sometimes into the uterus and to lymph nodes that are close.
Stage 2: The cancer has exceeded beyond the cervix and uterus, but not too far from the walls of the pelvis or the lower part of the vagina. It might affect nearby lymph nodes or not.
Stage 3: Cancer cells are numerous in the lower part of the vagina and the walls of the pelvis, and it might block the ureters which is the tubes that carry urine from the bladder. It may or may not affect nearby lymph nodes.
Stage 4: The cancer is fully grown and can affects the bladder or rectum growing out of the pelvis. It may or may not affect the lymph nodes.In stage 4,cancer will spread to distant organs, including the liver, bones, lungs, and lymph nodes.
NOTE: Undergoing screening and seeking medical attention if any symptoms occur can help a person access early treatment and increase the chances of survival.
WAYS OF TREATING CERVICAL CANCER
Cervical cancer can be easily treated if diagnosed on it’s early stage. The methods of treatments are:
2. Radiation therapy
4. Targeted therapy
Surgery: Is used to remove as much of the cancer as possible. Sometimes just the area of the cervix that contains cancer cells is removed. For cancer that’s more widespread, surgery may involve removing the cervix and other organs in the pelvis.
Radiation therapy: Radiation is used to kill cancer cells using high-energy X-ray beams. It is often delivered through a machine outside the body but can also be delivered from inside the body by placing a metal tube outside the uterus or vagina.
Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy makes use of drugs to kill cancer cells found in the body. Chemotherapy is often done in cycles by doctors, chemo is usually for a period of time then the treatment would be stoped to allow ones body time to recover.
Targeted therapy: Bevacizumab (Avastin) is a newer drug that works in a different way from chemotherapy and radiation. It blocks the growth of new blood vessels that help the cancer grow and survive. This drug is often given together with chemotherapy.
PREVENTION OF CERVICAL CANCER
The most effective way to prevent cervical cancer in young woman are as follows:
1. The screening and taking of the Human papilloma virus vaccines early
2. The use of condoms during sexual intercourse
3. Avoid smoking
4. It is advicable to avoid more than one sexual partner
NOTE: If cervical cancer is detected early, it can be easily and successfully treatable when handled effectively. Cancers diagnosed in late stages can also be controlled with appropriate treatment and palliative care.