Cervix is the lower most part of the uterus which opens into the Vagina. Cervical Cancer is a major 2nd most prevalent cause of cancer in women. It is important that women recognise the factors responsible for cervical cancer and adopt the prevention practices.
The following risk factors increase the risk of cervical cancer.
- HPV Infection
- Early age of first intercourse
- Multiple sexual Partners
- DES exposure
- High number of full term Pregnancies
Among all these, HPV infections is the most important risk factor for cancer of cervix. HPV – human papilloma virus- is spread by sexual contact. HPV causes cells to become abnormal which if not treated can change into cancerous cells. HPV is the cause of almost all cases of cervical and some cases of vaginal cancers.
- Risk of cervical cancer may be decreased by obvious behavioural modifications such as avoiding smoking and using barrier protection methods during sexual contact.
- Apart from this HPV infection may be prevent by –
Getting an HPV Vaccine – Two vaccines Gardasil & Cervarix are available in the market which provide protection against virus types that cause cancer but they do not protect women who are already infected with HPV. These vaccines are to be take before you commence your sexual history. Also they have guidelines related to age. Certain vaccines are broad spectrum and are able to provide protection to men too against genital warts, etc.
Regular pelvic examinations and pap tests help to find abnormal cells in the cervix before cancer develops. Pap test is done by collecting cells from the cervix and examing them under the microscope. The Pap test when combined with a regular program of screening and appropriate follow up can reduce cervical cancer deaths by 80%. Women should take the test every year to ensure that they are safe.
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