Early Signs of Cervical Cancer. Cancer of any type is difficult to deal with. Among those cancers specific to women is cervical cancer. It occurs when abnormal cells in the cervix grow and get out of control. The cervix lies at the lower part of the uterus and it opens into the vagina.
It is caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Once can get HPV from sexual contact with someone who has the virus. Some forms of HPV cause genital warts and cold sores if contact was via kissing.
HPV can live in your body for years without causing any symptoms whatsoever. You will continue living a perfectly normal and healthy life with no indications of the virus in your body. It can however be detected using a Pap smear. This is why it is important for every sexually active young woman to get a Pap smear done regularly. A Pap smear is able to detect the cell changes before they develop into cancer.
What to look for
- Pain during sex may be an indication of abnormal cell growth.
- Bleeding when a foreign object gets into contact with the cervix. An example is when having sex or even inserting a diaphragm.
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding. You should be able to differentiate this from your period.
- When there are inexplicable (at least to you and before tests) changes in your menstrual cycle. They may occur frequently but try and rule out all the possible causes of the change first.
- Vaginal discharge that has a slight amount of blood in it.
A diagnosis is arrived at by a Pap smear. The Pap smear is done by scraping a few cells from the cervical wall. These cells are examined for any abnormalities. If there are abnormalities, the doctor will check whether there are any precancerous or cancerous cells among them. A tissue sample will be taken if you already have some of the symptoms as mentioned above.
Surgery to remove the uterus (hysterectomy) can be done. The ovaries and fallopian tubes can be left intact but the pelvic lymph nodes removed. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can also be done. These are the most common treatmentsassociated with cancer.
You may have one treatment method or a combination depending on what the doctor thinks is the best option. The earlier it is caught the better for you. It may be the difference between losing your uterus and keeping it.
Preventing cervical cancer is possible. Regular Pap smears will show abnormal cell growth before it gets to cancer. This can be treated and thus prevent cervical cancer. The misconception that Pap smears are painful should be replaced with Pap smears could save you from cancer.
There is also a HPV vaccine for people under 26 years that prevents two types of HPV that cause cervical cancer. Since it is spread sexually, it would also be wise to abstain. For those not willing to abstain, safer sex is your best bet. Use condoms at all times and the number of sexual partners should be kept to a minimum, preferably one.
Cervical cancer is a difficult condition to experience. The treatments may cause side effects that will leave you feeling weak ravaged. Emotional support will count for so much at this point. Ask your family to walk with you during this period. You can also join a support group of people who are going through the same.