Important aspects of Cervical Cancer

What is cervical cancer?

Generally, the Cervix is the lower part of the uterus. The cervix, therefore, keeps a pregnant woman or girl from getting pregnant because it is constantly closed and opened when the pregnant mother is close to giving birth and during childbirth.

Cervical cancer is cancer that starts in the cells that make up the cervix. Research shows that cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women worldwide, with an estimated 604,000 deaths and 342,000 deaths in 2020. About 90% of all cases and deaths worldwide in 2020, they are located in developing countries, including Rwanda.

According to the latest WHO (World Health Organization) figures released in 2020, cervical cancer deaths in Rwanda reached 942 or 1,625 of all deaths.


What are the risk factors for developing  cervical cancer?

HPV (Human Papillomavirus): Cervical cancer is often caused by a virus known as human papilloma (HPV: Human Papillomavirus). This virus has many species. The WHO reports that the 2 human HPV types (16 and 18) are responsible for causing cervical cancer at a rate as high as 50%. This virus is spread mainly through unprotected sex or by being infected with the virus. A girl or a woman who has sex with different people has a higher risk of contracting this virus.

This virus is also one of the vaccinated viruses for young girls therefore they are  less likely to develop cervical cancer.

Immune deficiency: A person with a chronic illness or a weakened immune system is at increased risk of developing cervical cancer. According to the WHO, women living with HIV are 6 times more likely to develop cervical cancer than women without HIV.

Not get Screened early: the first and surest way to find out if you have cervical cancer is to get screened early to find out if you have the disease and start early follow-up. Women who have not been screened for more than five years or have never been screened are more likely to develop cervical cancer.

Having a baby at a young age: having a baby at a young age increases the risk of developing cervical cancer. Research shows that compared to women who give birth at least after 25 years of age, girls and women who give birth before the age of 17 have a higher risk of cervical cancer.

Smoking: cigarettes contain chemicals that damage the immune system. Therefore, smoking can damage the tissues of the cervix, thus reducing the immunity, making it easier to get infected with HPV and more difficult to treat it. Women who smoke have a higher risk of developing cervical cancer than women who do not smoke.

Aging: women over the age of 30 are more likely to develop cervical cancer.

Birth control pills: studies show that long-term use of birth control pills increases the risk of developing cervical cancer.

Symptoms of cervical cancer

After looking at the possible risk factors of cervical cancer, let’s take a look at the symptoms of cervical cancer.

As with other types of cancer, cervical cancer is often asymptomatic, taking a long time to develop symptoms. Some of the symptoms of cervical cancer include:

  • Bleeding  having sex,
  • Bleeding since you are not on your period,
  • Bleeding from women who have reached menopause,
  • Severe pain during sex,
  • Having vaginal discharge smells bad, too
  • Pain in lower abdomen.

Although these symptoms are similar to other diseases known as infections. It is important to visit a doctor at your nearest hospital if you have any of the above symptoms.

What can you do to prevent cervical cancer?

  • Early detection or testing for cervical cancer virus (PHV) increases your chances of knowing whether you are infected or not. Once you are diagnosed with an infection,  you get treated and cured.
  • Having unprotected sex reduces the risk of contracting cervical cancer (HPV).
  • Vaccinating children under 12 years of age with the cervical cancer vaccine increases the chance of not contracting the virus and reduces the risk of developing cervical cancer.
  • Avoid smoking because it damages the tissues of the cervix and thus suppresses the immune system in fighting against the virus that causes the cervix.
  • Avoiding the long-term use of birth control pills and having a baby at a young age increases the chance of not getting cervical cancer.

Protect your life by getting an early cervical cancer diagnosis.

                        KNOW AND LOVE YOURSELF. GET CHECKED

Author : Richard MBAZUMUTIMA

Cervical Cancer – Radiation Oncology. (2019, January 31). Radiation Oncology. https://med.virginia.edu/radiation-oncology/home/cervical-cancer/

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