Cervical cancer starts in the cells that connect the uterus to the vaginal canal. Human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted disease, is accountable for the relative quantity of cervical malignancies (Burd, 2003).
When the body is open to HPV, the immune system usually defends the body from the virus. The virus, however, can live for years in a tiny percentage of people, contributing to the change of specific cervical cells into cancer cells.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Cervical Cancer?
When cervical cancer is at its early stages, it does not show particular signs and symptoms however in the advanced stage it shows the following sign and symptoms:
- Watery, crimson vaginal discharge with a strong odor
- After sexual intercourse, during periods, or after menopause, vaginal bleeding occurs.
- Pelvic discomfort or soreness during intercourse (Fang et al., 2014)
What are the Causes of Cervical Cancer?
Cervical cancer arises when the DNA of healthy cells in the cervix is changed (mutations). A cell’s DNA contains instructions about what it should accomplish. At regular periods, healthy cells grow and multiply before dying.
The mutations cause the cells to proliferate and reproduce uncontrollably, yet they do not kill them. The aberrant cells that have gathered create a bulk (tumor). Cancer cells infect surrounding tissues and can move from a tumor to other regions of the body (metastasize) (Fang et al., 2014).
Although the cause of cervical cancer is uncertain, Human papillomavirus is suspected to play a role. HPV is a reasonably common virus, and the great majority of people who contract it do not develop cancer.
This suggests that other factors, such as your surroundings or lifestyle choices, may affect your risk of cervical cancer (Fang et al., 2014).
Types of Cervical Cancer?
Different types of cervical cancer influence your prognosis and treatment options. Cervical cancer is split into two types: benign and malignant. Malignant cervical cancer is further divided into:
- Adenocarcinoma: This type of cervical cancer starts in the crossed-shaped pleomorphic adenoma that surrounds the cervical canal
- Squamous cell carcinoma: This type of cervical cancer develops in the narrow, flat cells that border the outer region of the cervix and extend into the vaginal area. Squamous cell cancers account for the vast majority of cervical cancer (Hu & Ma, 2018)
What are the Treatment Options for Cervical Cancer?
Cervical cancer treatment is ascertained by several factors, considering the degree of the sickness, any other wellness conditions you might have, and your predilection. Surgical intervention, radiation treatment, chemotherapy, or a combination of the three are all possibilities (Olusola, et al., 2019).
HPV prevalence among females in Africa
Cervical cancer is the most common malignancy in South Africa and the primary cause of cancer mortality among women. Not only the women but the girl child are equally affected by this deadly disease.
To make females safe from this condition different precautionary measures should be taken and knowledge of the HPV should be disseminated.
HPV vaccines and health education should be taught in schools and colleges, as well as the need to have a regular pap test as it determines the precancerous conditions of the cervix (Naz et al., 2018).
In recent years, the incidence of cervical cancer has attenuated substantially. Females, on the one hand, continue to go through a potentially preventable & treatable sickness, and those who are ignored for screening tests or do not receive any screening tests remain at higher risk of contracting cervical cancer.
As a result, health authorities, especially those in Africa must be cautious and vigilant by doing routine pap smear screening on all relevant girl-child and women.
Written by: Emmanuel J. Osemota
- Burd, E. M. (2003). Human papillomavirus and cervical cancer. Clinical microbiology reviews, 16(1), 1-17.
- Olusola, P., Banerjee, H. N., Philley, J. V., & Dasgupta, S. (2019). Human papilloma virus-associated cervical cancer and health disparities. Cells, 8(6), 622.
- Hu, Z., & Ma, D. (2018). The precision prevention and therapy of HPV‐related cervical cancer: new concepts and clinical implications. Cancer medicine, 7(10), 5217-5236.
- Fang, J., Zhang, H., & Jin, S. (2014). Epigenetics and cervical cancer: from pathogenesis to therapy. Tumor Biology, 35(6), 5083-5093.
- Naz, M. S. G., Kariman, N., Ebadi, A., Ozgoli, G., Ghasemi, V., & Fakari, F. R. (2018). Educational interventions for cervical cancer screening behavior of women: a systematic review. Asian Pacific journal of cancer prevention: APJCP, 19(4), 875.