Silent Threats: Early Signs of Cervical Cancer You Must Know

Cervical cancer is a specific type of cancer that develops in the cervix, which is the lower part of the uterus connecting to the vagina. This type of cancer is a significant global health issue, and certain strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) play a crucial role in its development.

Cervical cancer

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Mortality Rate

Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women globally, with an estimated 604,000 new cases and 342,000 deaths in 2020. The highest rates of cervical cancer incidence and mortality are in low- and middle-income countries. But the good is that the 5-year relative survival rate for this type cancer in the U.S. is 67%. However, the survival rates vary based on several factors, including the stage of cancer, a person’s age and general health, and how well the treatment plan works.

Early Signs and Symptoms

In its initial stages, cervical cancer often doesn’t show any clear signs. However, as the disease advances, some symptoms may include vaginal bleeding after intercourse, between periods, or after menopause, abnormal vaginal discharge with an unpleasant odor, and pelvic pain or discomfort during intercourse.

Causes and Risk Factors

Most cases of cervical cancer are attributed to HPV, a common virus transmitted through sexual contact. It’s important to note that not all types of HPV lead to cervical cancer; some cause genital warts, while others may not cause any infections.

Risk factors for cervical cancer include having multiple sexual partners, engaging in sexual activity at an early age, and certain sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV/AIDS, and smoking.

Recent Advances on cervical cancer

Ongoing research in cervical cancer has led to promising developments:

  • Improved Detection Methods: Scientists are working on better ways to detect precancerous and cervical cancer cells. One method involves using fluorescent spectroscopy, which employs fluorescent light to identify changes in precancerous cervix cells.
  • HPV Prevention: Vaccines against HPV help prevent infections from the virus strains responsible for most cervical cancers.
  • Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy is a form of systemic therapy that uses medications to enhance the body’s natural defenses against cancer.
  • Targeted Therapy: Targeted drugs known as angiogenesis inhibitors are showing promise in blocking the action of a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), extending the lives of individuals with cervical cancer that has spread.
  • Combination Therapy: Clinical trials explore various combinations of immunotherapy, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy to enhance treatment effectiveness.

By staying informed about cervical cancer, its symptoms, and the latest advancements in research, one can take proactive steps in promoting their health and well-being. Regular screenings and vaccination against HPV are crucial elements in the prevention and early detection of cervical cancer.

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