Cervical Cancer: What You Need to Know

Cervical Cancer: What You Need to Know

Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the cervix, the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. It is the fourth most common cancer in women worldwide, and it is estimated that over 570,000 new cases will be diagnosed in 2018.

The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the main cause of cervical cancer. HPV is a sexually transmitted infection that can be spread through vaginal, anal, or oral sex. There are over 100 different types of HPV, and some are more likely to cause cancer than others. HPV 16 and HPV 18 are the two types that are most commonly associated with cervical cancer.

Most HPV infections go away on their own, but some can persist and lead to changes in the cells of the cervix. These changes can eventually lead to cervical cancer.

There are a number of risk factors for cervical cancer, including:

  • Having multiple sexual partners
  • Having sex at a young age
  • Having a weakened immune system
  • Smoking
  • Using oral contraceptives for a long time

The best way to prevent cervical cancer is to get vaccinated against HPV. The HPV vaccine is safe and effective, and it is recommended for all girls and boys aged 9 to 26. Other ways to reduce your risk of cervical cancer include:

  • Using condoms during sex
  • Limiting the number of sexual partners
  • Getting regular Pap tests

Pap tests are screening tests that can detect abnormal cells in the cervix. Pap tests are recommended for all women over the age of 21, and they should be repeated every three to five years.

If you have any of the symptoms of cervical cancer, it is important to see your doctor right away. Symptoms of cervical cancer can include:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Pelvic pain
  • Pain during sex
  • Unusual discharge from the vagina

Cervical cancer is a serious disease, but it is one that can be prevented and treated. By getting vaccinated against HPV, practicing safe sex, and getting regular Pap tests, you can help reduce your risk of cervical cancer.