Cervical cancer develops in the cells of the cervix, a part that connects the uterus to the vagina. This type of cancer is caused mostly due to a sexually transmitted infection called Human Papillomavirus (HPV).
Generally, when the body is exposed to HPV, the immune system typically prevents the virus from infecting cells. In a few number of cases, however, the virus survives for years and contributes to the development of cervical cancer.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women. In 2018, an estimated 5,70,000 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer worldwide and about 3,11,000 women died from the disease. Today, the risk of developing a cervical cancer can be reduced with various screening procedures. Further, you can also talk to your doctor for receiving a vaccine that protects you from HPV infection.
Symptoms of Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer do not produce any symptoms at the initial stages. You can only notice certain signs and symptoms during the advanced stage. These may include:
- Vaginal bleeding after intercourse, between periods or after menopause
- Watery, bloody vaginal discharge that may be heavy and have a foul odor
- Pelvic pain or pain during intercourse
You must immediately consult a doctor if you notice any such signs or symptoms.
Causes of Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer is caused by changes (mutations) in the DNA of healthy cells within the cervix. Instructions pertaining to a cell’s function are contained in its DNA.
A set number of healthy cells grows and multiplies each day, before they eventually die. During a mutation, the cells grow and multiply uncontrollably and they do not die. This results in abnormal cells accumulating and forming a tumor. The cells of cancer can penetrate nearby tissues and break off from the tumor to spread to other parts of the body.
HPV plays a role in cervical cancer, but the cause is not clear. In general, people with HPV never develop cancer. However, a number of other factors, including your environment and lifestyle, can influence whether you will develop cervical cancer.
Types of cervical cancers
Cervical cancer is differentiated into two main types: Squamous cell carcinoma and Adenocarcinoma. The two types are distinguished by the appearance of their cells under a microscope.
- Squamous cell carcinomas begin in the thin, flat cells that line the bottom of the cervix. Almost 90% of cervical cancers are of this type.
- Adenocarcinomas of the cervix develop in the glandular cells that line the upper portion of the cervix. Cervical adenocarcinomas make up most of the remaining cervical cancer cases.
Both these types may produce symptoms such as:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge
- Lower abdominal/pelvic pain
- Pain during intercourse
Diagnosis and Treatment
Cervical cancer can be diagnosed with a pelvic exam. During this process, a medical device called a speculum is inserted into the vagina to expand the wall so that a doctor or nurse can look into the vagina and cervix to see if there are any abnormalities or signs of cancer. The procedure often involves a Pap smear, in which a swab is gently removed from the surface of the vagina or cervix to collect cells.
These cells are then analyzed in the laboratory. In addition to detecting cancer, this test can detect the presence of human papillomavirus (HPV), which is associated with cervical cancer.
Treatment options for cervical cancer include:
- Radiation Therapy
- Targeted Therapy
Regardless of the type, the prognosis for these cancers is highly dependent on how far they spread.
- The 5-year relative survival rate for focal cervical cancer that has not spread beyond the cervix or beyond is 92%.
- The 5-year relative survival rate for focal cervical cancer that has spread beyond the cervix and uterus to nearby lymph nodes is 58%.
- The 5-year relative survival rate for cervical cancer that has spread to an organ or other part of the body is 17%.
5 Foods that fight cervical cancer
The risk of cervical cancer can be reduced with a healthy diet and plenty of water. These five foods listed below, fight and reduce symptoms of cervical cancer that produces antioxidant properties and nutrients.
1.Sweet Potatoes –Many yellow and orange fruits and vegetables contain beta-carotene. These antioxidants can prevent and treat several types of cancer, including cervical cancer. Sweet potatoes are one of the most important sources of beta-carotene to add to your diet. They are much healthier than regular potatoes and can be roasted or mashed. It is also important to consume outside the skin. It contains many nutrients.
2.Spinach – Dark green leafy vegetables contain folic acid. Folic acid helps create new cells. These new cells may help flush out the damaged, toxic cells that cause cervical cancer and other diseases in the body. Spinach is also an ideal source of other vitamins, such as vitamin E. This vitamin helps to improve healthy cell function.
3.Carrot – Carrots contain many nutrients that help fight disease. The antioxidants in this vegetable are especially helpful in fighting cervical cancer because they target the HPV.
4.Apples – Apples contain high amounts of vitamin C, which acts as an antioxidant that can fight disease in the body. Many people increase their vitamin C intake for colds without realizing that the nutritional value of vitamin C can help with cervical cancer and other conditions.
5.Eggs – Protein is essential for healing the body and repairing damaged tissues. Eggs are a great source of protein and should be eaten when fighting all types of cancer. Low-fat dairy products like lean meat and yogurt are also important.
Cervical cancer and other forms of cancer are curable. A healthy diet has amazing benefits in fighting symptoms and reducing the size of toxic cells in the body. Combining this with exercise, regular checkups, and even chiropractic care, lowering your stress levels and boosting your immune system, should be on the right track to improve your overall well-being.
As long as cervical cancer is detected early and managed appropriately, it can be one of the most successfully treated forms of cancer. Even cancers identified in late stages can be controlled with appropriate treatments and palliative care.
It is feasible to eliminate cervical cancer as a public health problem within a generation by providing comprehensive preventive, screening, and treatment measures.