Cancer of the cervix (cervical cancer) usually takes many years to develop. Almost all cases of cervical cancer occur in women who have been previously infected with the Human Papillomavirus (HPV).

THE CAUSES Factors which increase the risk of cervical cancer: > Smoking – women who smoke are twice as likely to get cervical cancer as non-smokers. > A high number of sexual partners or having sex with someone who has had many sexual partners. > Taking the oral contraceptive pill for more than five years – doubles the risk. > Having children (the more children you have, the greater your risk).

> Having unprotected sex.

In the early stages of cervical cancer, symptoms aren’t always noticeable, which is why we highly recommend regular screenings. The most noticeable symptom in the early stages would be irregular bleeding, after having sex, or between your monthly cycles. Other symptoms may include:

> Pain when passing urine > Pain when having sex

> An unpleasant smelling vaginal discharge

The treatment for cervical cancer is determined by the individual and the stage of cancer that has developed.

Methods include > Lasers which are used to burn away the cancerous cells. > Cold instrument to freeze the cells > Surgery > Radiotherapy

> Chemotherapy

PREVIENTION > Regular cervical smear tests – Smear tests can detect cervical changes early before they turn into cancer. > Keep the number of sexual partners to a minimum – Studies have shown that women who have many sexual partners, or have sex with someone who has had many sexual partners, increase the risk of cervical cancer. > Quit smoking – smoking increases all types of cancer. > Use a condom – Unprotected sex puts you at risk from STDs which can increase your risk of developing cervical cancer.

> HPV vaccine – this vaccine prevents infection from certain species of Human Papillomavirus which are associated with the development of cervical cancer.

Article can be found in February 2012 Issue 10:

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