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9 Things You Must Know About Cervical Cancer by Christina Steger

Posted by at 3:30 pm 0 Comment Print

Cancer can be quite a scary word.  The more you educate yourself on the subject, the easier it can be to address.  In this paper I will cover 9 things you must know about cervical cancer.  These will include causes, types, risk factors, symptoms, tests, diagnoses, treatments, coping and support mechanisms, and prevention methods.

  1. Cervical cancer begins when normal cells change into abnormal cells by means of a genetic mutation.  Cancerous cells grow abnormally fast and don’t die.  They aggregate to form a mass or tumor.  What actually causes cervical cancer isn’t totally clear.  Research has concluded that the STI called human papillomavirus (HPV) plays a crucial role.  While HPV is very common, just because a woman is infected with HPV, does not mean that she will develop cervical cancer.  Other risk factors also play a role, such as your genetic makeup and certain environment and lifestyle choices.
  2. The type of cervical cancer you have depends on where the initial genetic mutation occurred.  Knowing the type of cervical cancer you have can help determine the prognosis and treatment available.  The main types of cervical cancer are squamous cell carcinomas and adenocarcinomas.  The greater majority of cervical cancers are that of the squamous cell carcinoma type.  These begin in the squamous cells lining the outer part of the cervix.  Adenocarcinomas begin in the glandular cells that line the cervical canal and account for a smaller percentage of all cervical cancer cases.
  3. Certain factors may increase your risk of developing cervical cancer.  These include: having many sexual partners, beginning sexual activity at an early age, acquiring other sexually transmitted infections, a weakened immune system, and smoking cigarettes. Abstaining from these behaviors and maintaining a healthy lifestyle will decrease your likelihood of developing cervical cancer.
  4. It is important to know that early stages of cervical cancer generally produce no signs or symptoms at all.  More advanced stages of cervical cancer will give off some tell-tale signs.  These include: vaginal bleeding after intercourse or in between periods, pain during intercourse or pelvic pain, and watery or bloody vaginal discharge that may have a foul odor.
  5. Optimal screening for cervical cancer begins at the age of 21.  These tests include Pap tests and HPV DNA tests.  These tests can ultimately determine whether or not you have any of the strands of HPV that can most likely lead to cervical cancer.
  6. If a Pap test discovers abnormal or cancerous cells, further tests are needed.  These tests include a colposcopy, a biopsy, or a cone biopsy.
  7. There are many treatments available for cervical cancer.  The first would be surgery to remove the uterus and is called a hysterectomy.  When the invasion of cells is greater than 3mm into the cervix, a radical hysterectomy is recommended.  During this procedure, the cervix, uterus, and part of the vagina are removed.  Other treatments would be radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of both of these methods.
  8. There are many ways to cope with and support having cervical cancer.   The number one suggestion would be to get educated and ask questions.  You can never have too much information on a subject.  Get out there and create a support network.  Connect with other cancer survivors because it helps to hear others’ stories.  Most importantly, dedicate time for yourself.
  9. You can reduce the risk of developing cervical cancer by following these important guidelines: use condoms every time you have sex, delay the age of first intercourse, limit the number of sexual partners, quit or avoid smoking, and get yourself vaccinated against HPV.  The HPV vaccination is typically available for girls who are 9-26 years of age and is most effective when given before sexual activity commences.

Hopefully you now have a better understanding of cervical cancer with these few key points.  Remember, knowledge is power!

 

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