Cervical cancer is often referred to as the silent killer or a silent killer for women. The reason is, according to Lauren Streitcher MD., Clinical lecturer in obstetrics and gynecology at Nothwestern University, this disease often does not show any symptoms to a fairly severe stage. However, although this cancer is difficult to detect, there are some symptoms of cervical cancer that you must know.
What is cervical cancer?
Cervical cancer is a condition that occurs when cancer cells grow in the cervix. The cervix is a narrow organ in the lower part of the uterus that is connected to the vagina.
This cancer arises when cells lining the cervix begin to experience abnormal changes. As a result, these abnormal cells grow and develop into cancer over time.
The growth of cancer in this section will automatically affect the entrance to the uterus. In fact, the cervix is very important especially during the birth process. The American Cancer Society estimates that there are around 13,170 new cases of invasive cervical cancer that will be diagnosed in the United States in 2019.
Causes and triggers of cervical cancer
Causes of cervical cancer
Cancer usually arises due to the uncontrolled division and growth of abnormal cells. When these abnormal cells continue to divide, there will be excessive buildup. As a result, a lump or tumor arises which is the forerunner to cancer.
Generally, cervical cancer is most often caused by Human papillomavirus (HPV). Because, of the 100 types of HPV, 13 of them can cause cervical cancer. However, not everyone with HPV will develop cervical cancer.
HPV is a sexually transmitted infection that triggers the production of two proteins, namely E6 and E7. These two proteins are able to turn off some tumor suppressor genes and allow cells to lining the cervix to grow excessively. This is what can trigger gene mutations that ultimately cause cancer, including the cervix.
Triggers for cervical cancer
Apart from HPV, here are some factors that increase a person’s risk for cervical cancer, namely:
Have more than one sexual partner
Having lots of sexual partners, especially being active early on can increase the risk of cervical cancer. Because the transmission of cancer-causing HPV almost always occurs as a result of sexual contact with people who suffer from HPV. Women who have many sexual partners usually have a much higher risk of infection.
Smoking is one thing that can increase a person’s risk of cervical cancer. The reason is, cigarettes contain a variety of harmful chemicals that are carcinogens or cause cancer.
Weak immune system
People who have a weak immune system tend to be more susceptible to cervical cancer. People with HIV and AIDS, people who undergo transplantation, and users of immunosuppressive drugs (drugs that work to slow down the immune system) are more susceptible to cancer, including those that attack the cervix.
Family planning pills
Some types of birth control pills can actually increase the risk of cervical cancer. Therefore, consult a doctor before using this contraceptive to avoid the risk of this deadly disease.
Sexually transmitted disease
Sexually transmitted diseases can be an entry point for cervical cancer. Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis include various health problems that can increase the chances of cervical cancer to attack you.
Symptoms of cervical cancer
Usually women with cervical cancer do not have certain symptoms at the beginning of its appearance. Generally symptoms will not appear until the cancer has spread and grown to the nearest tissue. When the cancer starts to spread, then you will feel various symptoms, such as:
1. Abnormal bleeding
Bleeding after sex, menopause, longer periods, and bleeding between menstrual cycles are signs of an abnormal condition. If this happens, you should not underestimate it and must see a doctor. Because the bleeding that is not normal can be one of the symptoms of cervical cancer.
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