Sunday, 29 January 2017

Cervical Cancer: Symptoms And Preventing The Disease

Cervical Cancer

Every year in the UK, over 3,000 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer. It's the most common cancer in women aged 35 and under and the 13th most common overall.

Only 63% of people with cervical cancer survive for more than 10 years after diagnosis, even though 100% of cases are preventable.

Stats from Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust showed that almost 3.7million women in the UK are putting themselves at risk of cervical cancer by not attending regular smear tests.

A smear test is still the most effective way of identifying cervical cancer, or the signs of changes to the cervix before they become a problem.

In honour of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, which runs from January 22-28, we've rounded up everything you need to know about the disease.

How do you get tested?

Women should start going for smear tests from the age of 25 and should go every three years until they are 50, in order to monitor for abnormalities.

After this point, women should go every five years and carry on until they are 65 years old. Abnormalities are very easy to test for, because the cervix – unlike any other part of the womb – is much more accessible for sampling.

What are the symptoms of cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer often doesn’t have any symptoms until it's quite advanced, which is why it's important to get tested regularly

However, the most common symptom of cervical cancer is bleeding from the vagina at times other than when you are having a period.

You may have bleeding:

1. Between periods

2. During or after sex

3. At any time if you are past your menopause

Some women also have a mixture of the following symptoms:

4. A vaginal discharge that smells unpleasant

5. Discomfort or pain during sex

6. Pain related to sex is called dyspareunia.

There are many other conditions that cause these symptoms. Most of them are much more common than cervical cancer. But you should go to your doctor straight away if you have any concerns.

Risk factors for cervical cancer

While high-risk HPV is the cause of 99.7% of all cervical cancers, there are other factors that increase your risk of developing the disease. These risk factors can be broken down into three different groups:

1. Not attending cervical screening (smear test)

2. Factors that increase your exposure to the virus, which include:

  • Being sexually active from a younger age
  • Having children at a younger age
  • Giving birth to many children
  • Having a higher number of sexual partners
  • Long term use of the contraceptive pill (more than 10 years) can slightly increase the risk of developing cervical cancer but the benefits of the pill outweigh the risks for most women

3. Factors that make your body more vulnerable to infections or less able to fight them off

  • Smoking (as with most cancers)
  • Having a weakened immune system



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