Cervical Cancer

Causes and Symptoms that you should know

If you’re active online on various social media platforms, you might be aware about the Poonam Pandey fake death scandal. A social media post claiming that an Indian actress had died due to cervical cancer spread across furious debate after a subsequent video of her being alive and the whole scandal being fake was posted. The post claimed that she had cervical cancer! Do you know what cervical cancer is? If no! Then you’re at the right place, so let’s catch up with the trend and dive deep into the details of cervical cancer, its symptoms and causes.

Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix, which is the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. Most cervical cancers are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection. Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women. In 2018, an estimated 570,000 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer worldwide and about 311,000 women died from the disease.

Takeaways

Symptoms

1. Persistent pelvic or lower back pain:

As cervical cancer Transitions to advanced phases, malignant tumours expand beyond the cervix, infiltrating surrounding tissues. Consequently, individuals may experience persistent discomfort localised in the pelvic region or lower back, ranging from dull and achy to sharp and debilitating, potentially intensifying over time This discomfort often shows up as a spectrum of sensations. Due to the insidious nature of such pain, you should communicate any pelvic or lower back discomfort to your healthcare provider. Timely reporting facilitates comprehensive evaluation and ensures appropriate management strategies are implemented to address potential cervical cancer implications.

2. Increased vaginal discharge:

As a woman, you may be curious about the regular occurrence of vaginal discharge as a female, but it’s important to take note of certain aspects. An alteration in vaginal discharge is a common manifestation of cervical cancer, characterised by notable changes in its consistency, quantity, and odour. This transformation in vaginal discharge is primarily attributed to the impact of cancerous cells on the cervix, disrupting its regular secretions. Consequently, affected individuals may observe an increase in the volume of discharge, which may exhibit a watery consistency, and contain traces of blood.

Any visible changes in vaginal discharge must be assessed by a doctor to ascertain the underlying cause, such as cervical cancer or other related conditions, and initiate treatment strategies accordingly.

3. Pelvic pain or pain during sexual intercourse:

Pelvic pain or discomfort, including dyspareunia or pain during sexual intercourse, often emerges as a distressing symptom in the progression of cervical cancer. The advancing tumour leads to heightened sensitivity and discomfort during sexual activity. This pain can be characterised by various sensations, such as aching, stabbing, or throbbing, and may intensify with movement or specific positions when coupled with other symptoms such as abnormal bleeding or urinary disturbances, persistent pelvic pain necessitates a comprehensive medical assessment to explore potential underlying causes, including cervical cancer progression.

4. Pain or difficulty during urination or bowel movements:

As cervical cancer advances, it has the potential to progress to adjacent organs like the bladder or rectum, resulting in discomfort or challenges during urination or bowel movements. This progression might be exhibited in various ways, including increased frequency or urgency of urination, discomfort or pain during urination (known as dysuria), or alterations in bowel habits. These symptoms, indicative of the disease’s advancement, asks for immediate medical attention to ensure appropriate and timely treatment.

Causes

1. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection:

Papillomavirus (HPV) infection stands as a prevalent sexually transmitted infection, profoundly implicated as the principal instigator of cervical cancer. Among the vast array of HPV strains, types 16 and 18 loom notably large as high-risk variants, significantly predisposing individuals to cervical cancer development. Upon HPV exposure, intricate molecular interactions occur within cervical cells, inducing morphological and genetic alterations. These changes, if left unaddressed, can instigate a malignant transformation, culminating in the onset of cervical cancer, underscoring the critical importance of timely detection and intervention in managing HPV infections. 

2. Lack of HPV vaccination

Failure to receive the HPV vaccine heightens the susceptibility to cervical cancer. The vaccine serves as a pivotal preventive measure against this malignancy by thwarting the acquisition of high-risk HPV strains, the primary culprits behind cervical cancer development. This vaccination regimen, advocated for both genders prior to sexual debut, plays a crucial role in curtailing the incidence of cervical cancer and its associated health burdens. By safeguarding against HPV infection early on, individuals fortify their defences against cervical cancer’s insidious onset, fostering long-term protection and well-being.

3. Weakened immune system:

An impaired immune system, whether resulting from conditions such as HIV/AIDS or the use of immunosuppressive medications following organ transplantation, can heighten susceptibility to the development of cervical cancer. The immune system’s ability to mount a robust defence against human papillomavirus (HPV) infections, the primary cause of cervical cancer, is compromised in such circumstances. Consequently, HPV infections may persist and progress to cervical cancer more readily in individuals with weakened immune responses, underscoring the critical role of an intact immune system in HPV control and cervical cancer prevention.

4. Smoking:

Smoking as we are aware poses a significant risk factor for the development of cervical cancer due to its introduction of various carcinogenic compounds into the body through tobacco smoke. These harmful substances directly affect the cervix, where they initiate molecular changes conducive to the onset of cancer. The prolonged exposure to these carcinogens heightens the vulnerability of cervical cells to malignant transformation. Therefore, individuals who smoke are at an increased risk of developing cervical cancer compared to non-smokers. 

However, adopting smoking cessation measures can effectively mitigate this risk, offering not only a reduction in the likelihood of cervical cancer but also fostering overall health improvements.

5. Long-term use of oral contraceptives:

Extended duration of oral contraceptive (OC) usage has been associated with a potential, despite slight, elevation in the likelihood of developing cervical cancer, as indicated by several research studies. Prolonged exposure to OCs may influence cervical cell changes, contributing to this increased risk. Importantly, cessation of OC use typically results in the regression of this heightened risk, gradually returning it to baseline levels observed in non-users. Given this subtle association, it is advisable for individuals currently using OCs to engage in thorough discussions with their doctor regarding the risks and benefits associated with OC utilisation.

Conclusion

As we conclude our journey through this exploration of cervical cancer awareness, let us remain steadfast in our commitment to knowledge, prevention, and support. By understanding the risks, recognizing the symptoms, and advocating for regular screenings and vaccination, we empower ourselves and our loved ones to take proactive steps towards cervical health. Remember, early detection saves lives. Let us continue spreading awareness, breaking stigmas, and fostering a community of support for those affected by cervical cancer. Together, we can strive towards a future where cervical cancer is a thing of the past. Thank you for joining us in this crucial conversation.

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