Cervical cancer remains a leading cause of cancer-related death for women in developing countries. It is also the third mos common malignancy in women worldwide.
As per the latest estimates by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the disease is the number one killer, overtaking breast cancer with over 62,000 deaths in 2015. India accounts for one-fourth of all cervical cancer deaths in the world.
Cervical cancer is a malignant tumour of the uterine cervix, the portion of the uterus attached to the top of the vagina. If caught early, cervical cancer is treatable and curable.
Causes and risk factors for cervical cancer include human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, having multiple sexual partners, smoking, taking birth control pills, and engaging in early sexual contact.
The problem is that in most cases, cervical cancer does not show symptoms in the early stages. Therefore, women are asked to get a Pap test starting at age 21 to check for abnormal cells in the cervix, so they can be monitored and treated as early as possible.
If symptoms do occur, they may include:
- Unusual vaginal bleeding (between periods, during or after sex, after menopause)
- Pain during sex
- Increased amount of discharge or foul-smelling from the vagina
Signs of advanced stages of cervical cancer may include:
- Edema, or swelling, of the legs
- Pelvic, back or leg pain
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Leaking of urine or feces from the vagina
- Difficulty urinating