The principal cause of Cervical Cancer has been identified as the HPV virus (Papillomavirus), which is sexually transmitted. The association of this virus with women is somewhat expected. What is not generally known is that HPV infection does occur in men and puts them at an increased risk of penile and anal cancers.
Thankfully the majority of HPV infections display no symptoms and many cases go away without treatment. Certain strains of the virus will however, at best, cause genital warts, and, at worst, lead to Cervical Cancer. Cervical Cancer Symptoms rarely show up in the early stages of the disease. This is why it is difficult to put too much emphasis on the need for regular Pap tests.
Once considered one of the most deadly cancers, medical advances have made it the most preventable. Regular Pap tests, HPV testing and vaccines facilitate early detection and treatment which means that potential victims now have the tools to keep this cancer at bay.
Common Cervical Cancer Symptoms
Vaginal bleeding after sexual intercourse should be the first red flag that things are out of the norm. As a matter of fact any genital bleeding that is outside the expected monthly period should set off alarm bells. This includes, but is not confined to, any bleeding occurring after menopause.
Pelvic pain and discomfort during sexual intercourse and a foul-smelling vaginal discharge should prompt one to seek immediate medical attention as these are also Cervical Cancer symptoms.
The above-mentioned symptoms may be early indicators of the presence of Cervical Cancer. As the disease advances one may experience weight loss and fatigue, pelvic and back pain and swelling in one or both legs. At this stage constipation and blood in the urine is not uncommon.
Urinary incontinence and bone pain are further possible signs of the advancing disease. Difficulty in urinating and passing stool may also point to the cancer progressing. Taken singly these last two symptoms may of course be only a passing discomfort, but considered holistically with the other symptoms they should not be ignored.
HPV infection automatically translates to a high propensity in getting Cervical Cancer. HPV may be acquired through having a large number of sexual partners and having had sexual relations at a young age. Having a weakened immune system also makes one easy prey to this cancer.
Diethylstilbestrol (a ‘synthetic estrogen’) was once a common drug prescribed to prevent premature labour, miscarriage and other pregnancy-related complications. Widespread use stopped in the early 70s but it is still occasionally prescribed. It is, unfortunately, a high risk factor in acquiring Cervical Cancer.
Cervical Cancer is one of those diseases that affords potential victims the opportunity for early detection and preventive measures. Vaccination against HPV is strongly recommended especially for females aged between 9 and 26. The efficacy of the vaccination is however limited to women who have not been infected with the virus.
As with most cancers radiation therapy, chemotherapy and integrative treatments are currently indispensable in the treatment of Cervical Cancer.
Other forms of treatment may include Hysterectomy. This refers to a procedure involving the removal of the uterus and very often fallopian tubes, ovaries and the cervix. Sometimes it is the only choice if a woman has cancer of the uterus. It is important to note that the majority of hysterectomies are performed for non-cancerous conditions such as fibroids and endometriosis.
A complete cure from Cervical Cancer depends largely on catching the disease early. Even when it has advanced it is possible, through the various treatments, to slow its progression and find relief from the associated symptoms (palliative care).
Please contact us if you are suffering from Cervical Cancer or know someone who is. We are ready to help.