With over 14,000 cases recorded annually, cervical cancer is the second leading type of cancer affecting females in Nigeria. This is because it’s easy to contract through multiple sources even though it’s also highly preventable. The challenge is that many people do not know they have contracted it and end up passing on the virus responsible for it.
We believe that the more people are made aware of the disease and how to prevent or treat it, the safer everyone will be and over time, there just might be one less cancer in the world to worry about. This article is meant to show you all you need to know about cervical cancer – symptoms, prevention and treatment.
How is it contracted?
Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix — the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. It is mainly caused by various strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV).
When a woman gets infected with HPV, her immune system prevents the virus from doing harm. However, the virus can survive for years, thereby causing some cells on the surface of the cervix to become cancerous.
- Multiple sex partners – the more they are, the higher the risk.
- Early sexual activity.
- Other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
- Weak Immune System.
In its early stages, cervical cancer has no symptoms. As it advances, signs include:
- Vaginal bleeding after intercourse, between periods or after menopause.
- Pelvic pain.
- Watery, bloody vaginal discharge which may have a foul odour.
- If you exhibit any of these symptoms, please see a doctor immediately.
You can reduce your risk of developing cervical cancer by having screening tests and getting vaccinated against HPV. Vaccination is available for girls and women between ages 9 and 26.
Other preventive measures:
- Have routine Pap tests to detect precancerous conditions o the cervix.
- Practice safe sex: use a condom or stick to one partner.
- Don’t smoke.
If discovered early, cervical cancer can be treated with surgery (hysterectomy) but this may have implications on childbirth. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy can also be used to kill the cancer cells.
Cervical cancer is easy to contract and spread but with the right information, you can also prevent it and ensure that even your loved ones are protected.