Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for over 9.6 million deaths in 2018 itself.
Historically, even though cancer can affect both men and women, the types of cancer differ between the genders drastically.
Women are mostly affected by breast, colorectal, endometrial, lung, cervical, skin, and ovarian cancers. While men are affected by prostate, colorectal, lung, and skin cancers.
Among all the types of cancers, cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women. In 2018, worldwide more than 570,000 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer and 311,000 women died from the disease.
Cervical cancer is a silent deadly disease. Even with a vaccine in the market that can prevent most cases of cervical cancer, it takes the lives of thousands of people. It is important to be aware of cervical cancer and get the HPV vaccine as that can eradicate the disease entirely. So here is everything you need to know about cervical cancer and the HPV vaccine.
What Is Cervical Cancer?
Cervical cancer is the type of cancer that develops in a woman’s cervix. Most of the cervical cancers (99%) are caused due to a type of human papillomavirus (HPV), which is transmitted due to sexual contact.
Who Can Get Cervical Cancer?
All women are susceptible to cervical cancer. However, women between the ages of 35 to 44 years old are most likely to get it.
HPV alone is not sufficient to cause cervical cancer. Other contributing factors include the following:
- Weakened immune system
- History of chlamydia infection
- Certain hormone treatments
Causes Of Cervical Cancer
As mentioned earlier, nearly 99% of all cervical cancers are caused due to human papillomavirus. There are over 100 types of HPV some of which can cause cervical or other gynecological cancers. However, two of them (HPV 16 and 18) cause around 70% of cervical cancer cases. The HPV 16 strain by itself is responsible for more than 50% of all cervical cancer cases in Europe alone.
Symptoms Of Cervical Cancer
During the early stages of cervical cancer, many patients don’t display any symptoms. However, in the later stages people with advanced cervical cancer suffer from:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
- Pelvic pain
- Pain during urination
- Kidney failure
- Fatigue and weight loss
- Bone pain
How To Lower Your Chances Of Getting Cervical Cancer
Go For Regular Routine Pap Tests
Most women don’t experience any symptoms in the earlier stages of cervical cancer. Getting regular pap tests enables doctors to detect abnormalities and take action before cervical cancer advances or even develops.
Studies have shown that smoking can increase the risk of developing various cancers including cervical cancer. Researchers identified that by-products from tobacco can damage the DNA of cervix cells and contribute to the development of cervical cancer.
Get The HPV Vaccine
Cervical cancer in most women can be prevented with a vaccine.
Types Of Cervical Cancer (HPV) Vaccines
As of today, there are two vaccines, Cervarix and Gardasil, that can protect women against the types of HPV that can cause cervical cancers.
Cervarix, used in the UK, blocks HPV 16 and 18 and Gardasil protects against strains 6, 11, 16, and 18. The only difference between the two is that the Gardasil vaccine protects an individual from the virus strains that cause both cervical cancer as well as genital warts.
HPV Vaccine Age Limit
Both the cervical cancer vaccines are approved for women up to the age of 26. However, doctors usually recommend girls to get vaccinated between the ages of 9 to 13.
Side Effects Of HPV Vaccine
Overall, cervical cancer vaccines don’t have any major side effects. However, after getting vaccinated some people do experience swelling or redness at the injection site.
Cervical cancer can be prevented or controlled with the help of HPV vaccination and the screening of precancerous lesions. When diagnosed and managed early, cervical cancer has one of the highest survival rates. So consult your doctor and be aware of the precautions you can take to protect yourself from this type of cancer.