Cervical Cancer

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Cervical Cancer | A Woman’s Worst Enemy

Q. What is HPV(Human Papillomavirus)?

HPV stands for Human Papillomavirus. This is the most common sexually transmitted infection on the planet. HPV is responsible for causing cervical cancer in women. It also causes genital warts. There are more than 100 varieties or strains of HPV, but not all are responsible for causing cancer.

Q.  What is cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix — the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. Human papillomavirus infection (HPV) is the cause of almost all cases of cervical cancer. HPV 16 and 18 strains are responsible for cervical cancer in 70% cases. It stands as the second most common women’s cancer in India and one of the leading killers of middle-aged women.

Q. How is HPV transmitted?

In most of the cases HPV is transmitted through sexual contact.HPV can be passed even when an infected person has no signs or symptoms. Anyone who is sexually active can get HPV, even if you have had sex with only one person. You also can develop symptoms years after you have sex with someone who is infected.

Q.   What are the risk factors for cervical cancer?

  • Early sexual relations before the age of 18
  • Smoking
  •  Weakened immune system
  •  Having multiple pregnancies
  •  Given birth at a very young age
  •   Long-term use of the contraceptive pills
  •   Family history of cervical cancer

Q. Am I at higher risk for cervical cancer if I have other STIs (sexually transmitted infections)

Usually body can fight off HPV and eliminate it. But in the presence of other STIs like chlamydia chances of a persistent HPV infection increase. Hence, a person with other STIs is at higher risk of developing cervical cancer.

What are the signs and symptoms of cervical cancer?

  • Bleeding between periods
  • Bleeding after sexual intercourse or after pelvic examination
  • Menstrual periods lasting longer and heavier than before
  • Bleeding after menopause
  • Increased vaginal discharge
  • Pelvic pain/ consistent lower back pain

Q. Who should get HPV test done?

All women who are sexually active should take HPV test at regular intervals of 3 years.

Q. Can I get HPV test at home?

The sample for HPV test can be easily collected at home with a self sample collection kit. No assistance is required. The procedure is just like using a tampon. There is no pain involved. The sample is then tested in a certified lab.

Q. What if the HPV test comes positive?

Positive HPV test for high-risk strains, when you have no symptoms of cervical cancer, does not mean you have cervical cancer. It simply implies that you need further investigations like a PAP or a colposcopy to determine if there are any changes in the cervical cells.

If there are no changes, you just need to get screened regularly.

If there are early changes, you can be easily treated and have a complete cure.

Q. Can HPV test tell about the type of the Virus?

A positive HPV test is followed by genotyping that can be done with the same sample. This test tells us about the strain of HPV.  Whether any followup action is required or not depends on the strain detected.

Q. What are the Stages of Cervical Cancers?

Stage I. Cancer is confined to the cervix.

Stage II. Cancer at this stage includes the cervix and uterus but does not involve the pelvic wall or the lower portion of the vagina.

Stage III. Cancer at this stage involves and uterus to the pelvic wall or the lower portion of the vagina.

Stage IV. At this stage, cancer has spread to other organs, such as the bladder or rectum, or it has spread to other areas of the body, such as the lungs, liver or bones

Cancer is detected in Stage III or IV in most of the cases and by this stage the treatment is very expensive and the condition is life-threatening.

Q. How cervical cancer is detected?

  • PAP smear test
  • Biopsy
  •  MRI (magnetic resonance imaging scan)
  • Colposcopy

Q What is the importance of early detection in cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer can be cured completely if detected in the early stages. The treatment is less invasive, simpler and less expensive. The success rate is also very high.

Get Cervical Cancer screened . Stay safe.

About Author: LinkedIn

Dr.Deepti Nalgirkar is a health care management professional graduated from Maharashtra university of health sciences and has a master's degree in Dietetics and food service management. She also has done MBA from FMS, Delhi university. She is certified by Quality Council of India, NABH as internal assessor and clinical auditor. She has 10 years of experience in healthcare industry as consultant. She is trained and certified from Harvard medical school for her medical post graduate education program in Sqil with scholarship.