Cervical Cancer: What it is And How to Prevent It

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Although most causes of cancer could not be ascertained, two cancers that doctors know the causes of are cancer of the liver and the cervix. This is good news because it means it is possible for women to prevent cervical cancer, a killer that hits one woman every two minutes across the world. The virus behind 99.7% of cervical cancers is known as the Human Papilloma Virus, or HPV. This is the same virus that causes warts to break out on other parts of the body, but just because you may have warts does not mean you are cursed to have cervical cancer. Only 15 to 20% of HPV types that affect humans are said to be cancer-causing. The virus that results in warts on hands and feet are fortunately not the same virus type that causes the cancer.

This means that the best way to prevent cervical cancer is to minimize, or if possible, eliminating, the spread of the HPV types that are oncogenic. However, it is not simple because infection with this virus typically does not cause symptoms right away.

This is why screening at an early stage is crucial, as catching it in its pre-cancerous stage still has it curable. Factors that increase a woman’s risk of developing cervical cancer include the following: having warts in the anal and genial areas; having sex early in life, usually just after getting your period; having or having had STD or any of your partners having it; being a smoker or being regularly exposed to second-hand smoke; having used diethylstilbestrol (DES) during pregnancy or when your mother was pregnant with you; having five or more children; and a generally poor resistance to diseases.

Meanwhile, the virus is transmitted through various ways. The first one is by sexual contact, since the types of HPV that are oncogenic also infect the genital area. This makes the virus a sexually-transmitted one, and this is perhaps why most women do not get treatment early on from embarrassment at admitting to having STD.

Non-sexual transmission is also possible, usually through skin-to-skin contact of private parts. Heredity is also a factor, as the virus can be passed from mother to baby. And the last, still debatable mode of transmission is by passing through contaminated undergarments, biopsy forceps, and even surgical gloves.

Whether or not you find yourself at high risk, it is best to do the following to keep yourself in check early on:

1. Getting a Pap smear is crucial, since this is the standard for screening cervical cancer. Of course, it tends to be expensive and it take a while for the results to come in, but at least you get a certain level of peace of mind when the pathologists returns the results to you.

2. Living a healthy lifestyle is another key to prevention. This way, you will have your immune system at peak to help you ward off diseases. You can boost up your body’s defense system with regular exercise, enough sleep, not smoking or drinking, and making sure you go for your routine medical examinations.

3. Getting vaccinated is also another way to prevent the spread of the HPV virus. Although the vaccines do not necessarily prevent the cervical cancer itself, it can help you fight against the most common type of oncogenic HPV. Of course, doctors admit that the currently available vaccine is still not enough for all the cancer-causing types of HPV, at least it lessens your risk. It just means that it is no time to be licentious just because you have gotten yourself vaccinated. You should still continue to go for your regular checkups. Interestingly, experts determine that the best time to get the first vaccination is before anyone ever has her first sexual intercourse!

Hopefully these simple principles behind making sure you detect any cancer-causing HPV in your system early will help you avoid this silent killer. After all, that is what makes it more complicated, since the disease does not usually show symptoms until it is in its later stages, and usually too late for an effective cure. In any case, being aware of the ways to detect it early on and making sure you are at least vaccinated against the most common types should at least up your chances of not contracting the disease.

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