Thursday, 10 December 2015

CANCER OF THE CERVIX: risk factors and prevention



By Sam Maondu

INTRODUCTION:


Cancer prevalence rates are another ominous experience the public health sectors are going through. The treatment cost has been ironically hipped with very low success rates. Day care admissions for either chemotherapy or radiotherapy numbers are still growing with limited resources making clients seek for services in different countries. Cancer is a lifestyle disease and to some degree a disease of our own making. A slight shift in our lifestyle can be an essential tool to combat the rising cases. 



First let me take you though a crush course of anatomy. Cervix is an opening from the uterus to the vagina. Portio vaginalis is a part of the cervix that projects into the vagina and its surface is lined with flat cells called squamous cells which also extends to the vagina. When these cells undergo cancerous transformation maybe due to repeated Human papilloma virus infection, squamous cell cancer of the cervix develop. Majority of these cancers can be prevented by ensuring women who are above 21 years of age undergo cervical cancer screening.

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Human Papilloma Virus has been implicated with precancerous cell transformation in the cervix. There are more than hundred types of these HPV with type 16 and 18 causing cancer of the cervix. Other types of HPV may have a propensity to initiate changes in the cervix which may resolve with time.  Interplay of factors may be involved in the progression from precancerous lesions in the cervix to cervical cancer.

RISK FACTORS.

  • Being sexually active at early age- women who become sexually active at an early age increases their risk of developing cancer of the cervix. This doesn’t mean that women who have cancer of the cervix started being sexually active at an early age but it is a risk factor.
  • Smoking- smoking in women has been linked to several health related problem in both male and female. It is associated with increased risk of developing cancer of the cervix in women.

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  • Body immune status- A strong immune system is essential to fend off diseases in the body. A weakened immune system is a leeway for diseases process to occur. Women with diseases like HIV/AIDS have lowered immune status and are at risk of developing cancer of the cervix.
  • Mental stress- According to Medical News Today, women with long standing stress risk developing cancer of the cervix as a result of lowered immune system. Prolonged stress lowers the body’s immunity and one may not be able to fight HPV in the body.
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  • Giving birth at an early age- giving birth at tender age of 17 years may increase the risk of developing cancer of the cervix as compared to women who give birth to their first born at an age of 25 years.
  • Unsafe sexual behavior- Human papilloma virus is sexually transmitted virus. A woman with multiple sexual partners, woman with a partner who has multiple sexual partners or changing sexual partners frequently increases the risk of developing cervical cancer. In addition, those who are not consistent with use of condoms also risk contracting the virus responsible for cancerous cell transformation in the cervix.

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Prevention tips:

  • Eating a balanced diet to ensure strong body immunity. This will help to fight off Human Papilloma Virus infections.
  • Safe sex practices.
  • Screening for the cancer of cervix for any woman who is 21 years and above or 3 years after first sexual contact.
  • Avoid mental stress
  • Vaccination with human papilloma virus vaccine.

References:
Cervical cancer: causes, symptoms and treatment- MNT. Address: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/159821/php
Cervical cancer- Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Address: http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/cervical_cancer.