Some Important Facts About Cervical Cancer

– It is one of the most common cancers of the female genital tract.

– In general, cancer begins when normal cells acquire a genetic mutation that transforms them into abnormal cells that grow and multiply uncontrollably and also become “immortal”.

– The accumulation of abnormal cells form a tumor and invades surrounding tissues and can spread it to progress throughout the body. It is still unclear what causes this cell transformation, although it is known that HPV infection plays an important role. However, HPV is a common virus and most women do not develop cancer just for this reason.

– What are the risk factors:

* Multiple sexual partners: the more that is the number for one of the two partners, the greater the chance of contracting HPV infection.
* Early sexual activity (under 18): immature cells appear to be more susceptible to the precancerous changes that HPV can cause.
* Deficient immune system: typical of people living with HIV or transplanted or otherwise.
* Smoking: Although the exact mechanism is not well known, especially when associated with HPV infection.

– Half of cervical cancers occur between 35 and 55 years old.

– Most cervical cancers are the squamous type and come from the cells that line the surface of the cervix. Those from the endocervical canal that is covered by glandular cells are called adenocarcinomas.

– Most often, this cancer is asymptomatic, especially at the beginning. It may be associated with genital or postcoital bleeding between periods or menopause. Sometimes there may be bloody or smelly vaginal discharge. Pelvic pain during sex is also reported by some patients.

– Thanks to prevention through Pap smear or Pap test, death from this cancer has decreased dramatically over the past 50 years.

– Depending on the extent of the tumor, treatment can range from surgical removal of the tumor to more radical surgeries or which supplement with chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy.