Cervical cancer has been a major cause of death for women in the last 40 years.
As technology developed, with pap smear tests and in-depth research of warning signs, the number of deaths hase dropped.
However, we are still not completely safe, since thousands of American women are still fighting cervical cancer.
But, the question is: How to protect ourselves, and which risk factors to take into consideration?
Cervical Cancer Risk Factors:
The factors stated below increase the chances of cervical cancer:
HPV (human papilloma virus) – There are more than 100 different viruses belonging to this group, which are generally spread through skin-to-skin contact. All of them are considered to be risk factors of cervical cancer. Their early detection through pap smears is crucial.
Diet – Women who are overweight are more likely to develop cervical cancer.
Birth Control Pills – Some oral contraceptives contain female hormones that can foster the growth of cancer. The risk increases as the woman takes contraceptives on a regular basis.
Genetics – Cervical cancer can also be passed down among members of the family.
HIV – HIV damages the immune system, which can increase the risk for HPV infections.
Chlamydia – Women that currently have or have experienced Chlamydia in the past are exposed to higher risk of cervical cancer.
Smoking – Smokers double their chances to develop cervical cancer. The by-products of tobacco damage the DNA of cervix cells, which can contribute to developing cancer. At the same time, smoking affects the immune system, which makes it harder to fight HPV infections. See more…
Multiple Pregnancies – Women that have had more than 3 pregnancies have a higher risk of getting cervical cancer.
First pregnancy at a young age – If a woman gets pregnant when younger than 17 years old, she is 2 times more likely to develop cervical cancer later on in life.
Warning Signs of Cervical Cancer
If you experience some of the following symptoms, which are related to cervical cancer, you should visit your doctor.
Leg pain – In the early stages of cervical cancer, some women experience swelling and pain in their legs. The pain and swelling is caused by an obstruction in blood flow.
Vaginal Discharge – If you notice any change in your regular vaginal discharge, which smells foul and has a different appearance than usual, you should take into consideration the possibility of this showing an early sign of cervical cancer.
Unusual Bleeding – This is the most common symptom of all. If you are experiencing an untimely bout or any kind of vaginal bleeding, this might be an indicator of cervical cancer. In this case, you should contact a physician immediately. Women who are postmenopausal and have no menstrual periods, should pay specific attention to this symptom.
Discomforting Urination – Paying attention while you urinate can prevent cancer in several ways. The most common symptom is discomfort while urinating. This is usually described as a tight stinging sensation. When these symptoms are present, it can mean that the cancer has spread to nearby tissue and requires an immediate attention.
Irregular Urination – Changed urinary habits can also be a sign of developing cervical cancer. If you realize that there is any kind of unusual change in the frequency of your urine, loss of bladder control or a strange color (sometimes mixed with blood), you should ask for a medical help.
Irregular Menstrual Cycles – Inconsistency in your menstrual period can be an early sign pointing to a cervical cancer.
Uncomfortable Sex – If you are experiencing painful intercourse (dyspareunia), it might be a sign of cervical cancer. This symptom is usually linked to conditions that require medical attention, and should not be ignored in any case.
Pelvic pain – If you experience cramping and aches during your menstrual cycle it is normal. But if the pain stays even after the period, and becomes more intense, you should ask for advice from your doctor.
Back Pain – Back pain may occur for a variety of reasons, but if it is accompanied with other symptoms on this list, you should contact your physician.
Weight Loss and Fatigue – These symptoms can also be a result of other factors, but if they are accompanied with any other symptom of cervical cancer, there is the need for a physical checkup.
Cervical cancer reduces the number of healthy red blood cells, replacing them with white blood cells that try fighting off the disease. This can cause anemia which can cause unexplained fatigue and a lack of energy. Also, it can lead to weight loss due to a loss of appetite.
The next important issue to be discussed after figuring out the possible symptoms is how to prevent cervical cancer.
Ways to Help Prevent Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer can be tough to detect early, but using the symptoms above may help detect cervical cancer earlier. Becoming fully aware of cervical cancer and ways to help prevent cervical cancer is vital.
Pap Smear Test Screening – The best way to detect cervical cancer is a Pap Smear Test. These should be done regularly. Women that are between 20 and 30 years old should do the test once in 3 years, while womenolder than 30 should have one done every 3 to 5 years (every 5 years if it is combined with a HPV test). Note that women who have a higher risk of cervical cancer should consider more regular pap smear tests.
HPV vaccine – Some professionals recommend these vaccines to be taken before the early twenties. According to them, it is essential for preventing the virus that can cause cervical cancer. Also, Take a look at the controversy about HPV Vaccine… (You Decide).
No Smoking – As mentioned above, people that smoke or even experience heavy secondhand smoke have a greater risk of developing cervical cancer. If you are a smoker, consider the many health benefits that come with quitting.
Prevent Sexually Transmitted Infection – Not all sexually transmitted infections, HPV specifically, have physical signs. This means that practicing safe sex is important in decreasing the chance you contract a sexually transmitted infection.