Raising Awareness about Cervical Cancer: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

Rarely has a disease in human history caused so much social dysfunction, medical debate and popular misinformation. The shroud of misinformation and mystification that surrounds the disease called cancer, definitely adds to its ominousity. A cancer is a group of diseases which involves abnormal cell growth, leading to various potentially life threatening complications. On the occasion of Australian Cervical Cancer Week, let us try to demystify the scourge called cervical cancer. Number of nursing students are searching online nursing assignment help in Australia, UK, USA to score good marks and become a successful Nurse or Doctor

Cervical Cancer

What is Cervical Cancer?

A cell is basic building block of an organism. Cells make up tissues and tissues make up organs of the body. Old cells die out and new cells are born. This is a normal biological process. Sometimes this process goes haywire. Old cells do not die while new cells start growing abnormally. This is what we call cancer. There is much debate within the scientific community as to why this happens. However, it is impossible to pinpoint one single factor responsible for this. The disease is not reversible. But with proper medication, it can be managed to a significant extent.

The cancer which occurs in the cervix (a part of the female reproductive organ) which is located in the pelvic region is called cervical cancer. The cervix has many important functions. It connects the uterus to the vagina. It produces mucus during sex which helps the sperm to travel from the vagina to the uterus. During gestation period, the cervix is closed tightly and opens up during childbirth.

Who will get cervical cancer?

Not all abnormal growths are cancerous. Some may be benign. In some other cases, it may be malignant. As mentioned before, it is impossible to state with certainty as why some women develop cancer and others don’t. However, in almost all the cases, cervical cancer is caused by the infection of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).  HPV is a group of DNA virus most commonly found in the moist membranes linings of mouth, anus, genitals etc. It is highly infectious but also very common with almost three-fourth of all women having contracted it at some point of their lives. Common diseases like genital warts are usually associated with the virus. However, some virus strains can cause cancer. There are almost 150 to 200 types of HPV known. Of them, type 16 and type 18 are the cause of almost 75 percent of all cervical cancer cases, while type 31 and 45 are the cause of almost 10 of percent of the cases.

What is the method of diagnosis?

Although it is impossible to predict clearly who shall get cancer, there are, however, some patterns which have been noted by doctors. Women who smoke, those who are promiscuous, those who start sexual intercourse at an early stage and those who use artificial barriers like birth control pills and condoms are more likely to get cancer than others.

What kinds of treatment are available?

Cancerous cells in the cervix can be detected either by a pap smear or a pap test (a kind of screening test for early detection) or a biopsy (for cancerous or precancerous development)

Treatment involves

  1. Surgery
  2. Radiation therapy
  3. Chemotherapy
  4. A combination of all the above methods

The choice of treatment depends on what the doctor suggests which in turn is guided by the stage of cancerous development.

Living with cancer

Cancer does not always have to be end of life. One can get medical help from a wide variety of doctors and nurses (oncologists, gynecologists, radiologists, radiology nurses etc). Further, there are plenty of support groups of such patients. Online communities help to pass information and raise awareness. Taking a counselor’s help may be the best method for a woman and her partner to deal with the challenges posed by the cancer. Finally, it has also been suggested that taking HPV vaccines before a women starts her sexual life may help in preventing HPV infection induced cancer.

It is estimated that worldwide, there are 528,000 cases of cervical cancer and it is the fourth most common type of cancer. It is hoped that by raising awareness, on the occasion of the Australian Cervical Cancer Awareness Week (November 17 to 23), the rates of new cases will decline. It is heartening to know that rate of cervical cancer has dropped by 4.5 percent each year ever since organized pap test began in 1991.

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