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Cervical cancer – symptoms and early diagnosis

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28.06.2021

Cervical cancer – symptoms and early diagnosis

Cervical cancer occurs in the cells of the cervix – the lower part of the uterus, and is a malignant and potentially life-threatening disease. It is widespread and is the second most common cancer in women. Only breast cancer is more common than it. It is treatable when it is diagnosed in a timely manner and at an early stage.

Why is early diagnosis of cervical cancer important?

As with any other oncological disease, cervical cancer can be overcome through early diagnosis and appropriate timely treatment, which makes symptom recognition and checkups crucial.

However, smear testing alone may be an insufficient diagnostic method at an early stage. A study shows that one in about 120 women worldwide will develop cervical cancer if prophylaxis is performed only through an annual gynecological examination and a smear test. This number can be reduced by adding an HPV test for women over the age of 30, as well as performing a colposcopy. Cytosmear makes it possible to detect changes in the cervical cells early on and allows for timely measures to be taken. Together with the HPV test, it provides comprehensive information on whether there are changes in cells that can turn into cancer cells. If they are found, they should be removed to prevent the disease from developing. Through a colposcopic examination, the cervix is examined precisely with a special device. Abnormal cell changes can be identified at an early stage, and cell samples can be sent for biopsy.

Risk factors for cervical cancer

The human papillomavirus is a high risk for developing uterine cancer. Many women get infected with it by their partners who can pass it on without getting sick; however, their immune system copes, and they don’t develop cervical cancer. Weakened immunity, combined with other risk factors, is a key factor in the development of the disease.

Some of these other risk factors are related to unhealthy habits and lifestyle, others are hereditary. They include:

  • Overweight and consumption of unhealthy foods instead of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals from fruits and vegetables;
  • Smoking;
  • Early pregnancy – before the age of majority;
  • Early sexual intercourse and multiple partners;
  • Refusal to use condoms;
  • Heredity;
  • Weakened or suppressed immune system;
  • Infection with Herpes simplex virus type 2 or chlamydia.

Symptoms of cervical cancer

The symptoms of cervical cancer are non-specific, occurring in a number of other diseases and conditions, and this often delays a visit to the doctor, detection of the disease, and treatment. This fact makes the preventive examination essential. Make sure you inform your gynecologist if you experience the following symptoms that may indicate cancer:

  • lower back pain;
  • pain during or after sexual intercourse with a partner;
  • bleeding or unusual discharge after intercourse;
  • pain in the lower abdomen when visiting the toilet to pass water, as well as painful, unpleasant sensations when urinating;
  • menstruation that has become more abundant and prolonged over time;
  • bleeding after proven menopause;
  • bleeding between menstrual cycles.

These symptoms and problems can be caused by other diseases, but their examination and discussion with your gynecologist is imperative.

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