What you should know about Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer is a cancer or malignant tumour that is found on the cervix, which is the lowermost part of the uterus, often referred to as the mouth of the womb.
Symptoms of cervical cancer can include the following:
Bleeding after intercourse
Lower abdominal pain
Late stages: constipation, loss of weight, weakness
Is cervical cancer hereditary?
Cervical cancer is extremely closely linked to HPV (human papilloma virus) infection. There are some studies that show that there is likely a small genetic component, but it is very small and not on the same level as breast and ovarian cancer for instance.
What is a pap smear?
A pap smear is a brushing that is taken via a vaginal examination. This brush will sample a few cervical cells which are then analysed under a microscope. Before cancer occurs, there are precancerous cellular changes, which can be monitored and treated effectively so that cervical cancer never occurs. This is vital in the prevention of cervical cancer. If any woman has any gynaecological concern, she should rather see a doctor soon. Otherwise check-ups are recommended every 12-18 months.
Before cancer occurs, there are precancerous cellular changes, which can be monitored and treated effectively so that cervical cancer never occurs.
What age are women most vulnerable to getting cervical cancer?
There is quite a large age variation in women with cervical cancer, ranging from 35-65 years, although the peak incidence is late 40s.
How can women protect themselves against cervical cancer?
Women can protect themselves by having regular check-ups and papsmears. HPV is very closely linked to cervical cancer, and the HPV vaccine can greatly reduce the risk of getting cervical cancer. This is best administered before sexual activity and the target age is 9-12 years of age for both girls and boys.
How much can you expect to pay for a visit to the gynae?
This obviously depends on where you are situated and the specific gynaecologist, but most consultations will range from R800-R2000.
Is it true that taking oral contraceptives for an extended period can make you vulnerable to cervical cancer?
Increased levels of oestrogen will cause the cervix to be more vulnerable to HPV and the acidic environment of the vagina. Women on oral contraception are also thought to be more sexually active, which will increase the risk of HPV.
What are some of the things that make you vulnerable to cervical cancer?
- Human Papilloma Virus: which is transmitted sexually
- HIV or other immunosuppressive disorders: there is a suppressed immune reaction against HPV infection
- Cigarette smoking: suppresses immune response
- Early age of onset of sexual activity