Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix, which is the lower part of the uterus connected to the vagina.
Various strains of HPV and sexually transmitted infections play a role in most cervical cancer cases.
When exposed to HPV, the body’s immune system prevents the virus from causing damage. Nevertheless, the virus survives for years in a small percentage of people and is involved in the conversion of some cervical cells to cancerous cells.
You can reduce your risk of cervical cancer by doing screening tests and receiving a vaccine that protects against HPV.
Types of cervical cancer
Identifying the type of cervical cancer helps in determining the course of treatment. The main types of cervical cancer are:
Squamous cell carcinoma:
This type of cervical cancer begins in the squamous cells that line the outer side of the cervix, which connects the vagina. Most cervical cancers are squamous cell carcinoma.
This type of cervical cancer begins in the column-shaped glandular cells that line the cervical canal.
- Having more than one sexual partner
- Having sexual intercourse at an early age
- Immune system disorders
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Ask your doctor about HPV vaccines which may reduce the risk of cervical cancer and other types of cancer associated with HPV.
- Do pap smear test regularly as it helps to detect any formation of cancerous cells in the cervix, which allow early treatment
- Practice safe sex
- Quit smoking
Cervical cancer screening test (Papanicolaou test):
During cervical cancer screening, the doctor scrapes cells from the cervix and send them to the lab to look for abnormalities. The Papanicolaou test can reveal abnormal cells in the cervix, including cancerous cells and cells that show changes that increase the risk of cervical cancer.
DNA test to detect HPV:
The HPV screening test involves examining the cells collected from the cervix for infection with any type of HPV that is likely to lead to cervical cancer.
If your doctor suspects cervical cancer, they will probably start a comprehensive cervical examination and use a colposcope to check for abnormal cells. During a colposcopy examination, the doctor may take a sample of cervical cells (biopsy) for laboratory tests.
Treating cervical cancer depends on several factors, such as the stage of cancer, other health problems you may suffer and your preferences for treatment. Surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy, or a combination of the three may be used.