Senin, 23 Juni 2008

Cervical Cancer: can it be prevented?


The cervix is the lower part of the womb (uterus) and is often called the neck of the womb. Cancers that start in the cervix are called cervical cancer. Around 8000 women in Indonesia die each year because of cervical cancer. This kind of cancer is the biggest cause of death among women in Indonesia, much more than death due breast cancer.

How cancer of the cervix develops?

Cancer of the cervix can take many years to develop. Before it does, changes occur in the cells of the cervix. These abnormal cells are not cancerous, and are called cervical intra-epithelial neoplasia (CIN) or pre-cancerous stage. The cells might develop into cancer in some women if they are not treated. It is important to know that most women with CIN do not develop cancer.

Symptoms of cervical cancer

The most common symptoms of cervical cancer is abnormal bleeding, such as between periods or after intercourse. Women who have had their menopause may have some new bleeding. Often there is also a bad smelling vaginal discharge, and discomfort during intercourse.

How cervical cancer is diagnosed?

Risk factors of cervical cancer

Cervical cancer is usually caused by a sexually transmitted virus called the human papilloma virus (HPV), but most HPV infections will not lead to cancer. Women who have sexual intercourse at an early age and having multiple sexual partners can increase the risk of developing cervical cancer. Cigarette smoking also increases the risk of cervical cancer.


Cervical screening should be done every year with regular Pap test. At or after age 30, women who have had 3 normal test results in arrow may get screened every 2 or 3 years.

A vaccine to prevent infection with human papilloma virus (HPV) would be a major step forward in women’s health. Avoid several risk factors mentioned above.

Treatment for cervical cancer

Cancer of the cervix can be treated with either surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of these treatments. Surgery is the main treatment for cancer of the cervix in its early stages. Radiotherapy is sometimes used after surgery if there is a risk that some cancer cells may be left behind, to help reduce the risk of the cancer coming back. Sometimes radiotherapy is combined with chemotherapy. If the cancer has spread beyond the cervix, and is not curable with surgery alone, radiotherapy is the usual treatment

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