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All about Cervical Cancer

March 13, 2022 2 min read

Cervical cancer develops in a woman’s cervix which is the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. It is the fourth most common cancer which affects women all over the world. Although in 2018, an estimated 570,000 woman were diagnosed with cervical cancer, it is almost 100% preventable. Here’s how…

Prevention

The majority of cervical cancer cases are connected to infection with HPV, a common virus that is sexually transmitted. When subjected to HPV, your body’s immune system generally stops the virus from doing harm. However, for a small number of people, the virus survives for a number of years and causes cervical cells to transform into cancer cells.

In 1990, Australian scientists Ian Frazer and Jian Zhou began developing the HPV vaccination to prevent the virus from developing and spreading amongst the population. In 2007, the HPV vaccination became available to boys and girls from the age of 9 years old. The vaccination has proven to significantly reduce the risk of developing HPV to save millions of lives in the future.

Although the vaccination prevents the HPV virus, it does not prevent cervical cancer for women who have already been exposed to the virus. In this case, cervical screening is available through pap smear testing. By undertaking a pap smear and biopsy, doctors are able to detect unusual cells in the cervix which can be monitored or treated as required. It is important to note that to limit your chances of contracting HPV, practice safe sex (by using a condom) and limit the number of sexual partners you have.

Symptoms

  • Vaginal bleeding between periods, after sexual intercourse or after menopause
  • Pelvic pain or pain during sexual intercourse
  • Unusual vaginal discharge that may appear more watery, bloody or a different colour. May be heavier than usual and have a foul odour

Keep in mind that these symptoms can be caused by other conditions however it is important to speak to a doctor if you’re concerned or they persist.

Diagnosis

Cervical cancer is successfully treatable when detected early and managed correctly. With the introduction of the HPV vaccination and screening detection options, cervical cancer can be eliminated as a public health problem. Speak to your doctor about the HPV vaccination if you have more questions.

If you have been diagnosed with cervical cancer, it is normal to feel a vast array of emotions such as shocked, scared and upset, everyone reacts differently and there is no right way to feel. If you’re struggling, never feel embarrassed or afraid to speak to trusted family members and friends or alternatively a professional.

Medical Disclaimer: Articles are intended for informational purposes only and should not be used as the basis of patient treatment. Ask a medical professional if you have any health-related questions or concerns.

Additional resources

Cancer Council. (n.d.) Helping Australia eliminate cervical cancer.https://www.cancer.org.au/about-us/how-we-help/research/stories/helping-australia-eliminate-cervical-cancer

Cancer Council. (2021). Types of Cancer: Cervical Cancer.https://www.cancer.org.au/cancer-information/types-of-cancer/cervical-cancer

Centers for disease control and prevention. (2020). Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccination: What Everyone Should Know.https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/hpv/public/index.html

Mayo Clinic. (2021). Cervical Cancer. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cervical-cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20352501

World Health Oranization. (2021). Cervical Cancer.

https://www.who.int/health-topics/cervical-cancer#tab=tab_1


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