Cervical Cancer is Real!

In spite of being one of the most successfully treatable cancers, cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancers in women with 528,000 new cases diagnosed in 2012. It is the leading cause of cancer mortality amongst women in developing countries. Cervical cancer is a form of cancer that occurs when many cells in the cervix grow out of control. The cervix which is the lower, narrow end of the uterus connects the vagina to the upper part of the uterus (uterus).
It is difficult to observe symptoms at the early stage of the disease, as it can only be revealed by a pap test. Pap test looks out for precancerous cells. Precancerous cells refer to cells of the cervix that undergo some abnormal changes that might progress to cervical cancer if not treated well.
However, advanced cervical cancer may cause discharge from the vagina or bleeding after sexual intercourse. Other symptoms include the presence of metastases (secondary malignant growths at a distance from a primary site) in the abdomen, lungs or elsewhere, pelvic pain, back pain, pain during sex, heavy bleeding, fatigue and leakage of urine or faeces from vagina.
Risk factors include infection by some type of human papilloma virus - this virus is transmitted during sex. Other factors include smoking, using birth control pills for a long time, having sex at a young age (less than 16), having several sexual partners and having any condition that compromises your immune status (such as AIDS).  Research indicates that poor nutritional status which includes inadequate dietary intake of vitamin A, vitamin C, riboflavin, and vitamin E are also strongly linked to the condition. Though common in women aged between 20 and 50 years, about 15% of cervical cancer cases are found in women over 65 years.
Cervical cancer can be treated using either chemotherapy (use of drugs to destroy cancer cells) or radiation therapy (use of high energy rays to kill cancer cells) or surgery. Treatment is dependent on the stage of the cancer. Certain herbs and vitamins can also help manage cervical cancer, ease cervical cancer symptoms and encourage healing. This includes vitamin A, turmeric and vitamin B12.
Vaccines for women and girls between ages 9 and 26 are available for the prevention of cervical cancer. Boys between ages 9 and 15 can also be vaccinated. Other prevention tips include avoiding human papilloma virus infection by limiting the number of sex partners and avoiding any sex partner who has had several other partners. Pap test is recommended once in three years for women that are above 21 years of age as early detection greatly improves the chances of successful treatment and prevents any early cervical cell changes from becoming cancerous. 

Written by Ifeyinwa Ugo-Amadi

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