Cervical Cancer: What Are Its Causes, Symptoms And Treatment?

Approximately 604,000 women received a diagnosis of cervical cancer globally in 2020, with about 342,000 succumbing to the ailment. Cervical cancer stands as the fourth most prevalent malignancy in women, stemming from irregular cellular growth in a woman’s cervix or the passageway from the vagina to the uterus, as outlined by the World Health Organization (WHO).

An estimated 604,000 women received a diagnosis of cervical cancer globally in 2020, with about 342,000 succumbing to the ailment. Despite its ubiquity, cervical cancer stands as one of the most manageable cancer types, particularly when detected in its early stages. In later phases, the condition can be regulated through appropriate therapeutic interventions.

During her address presenting the Interim Budget for 2024, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman expressed the central government’s intent to promote vaccination among girls aged 9 to 14 years to thwart cervical cancer.

Last year, the government suggested the potential inclusion of an Indian-manufactured quadrivalent vaccine in the Universal Immunization Program (UIP), administered as a dual-dose regimen for adolescent girls.

Causes Of Cervical Cancer

In 99% of cervical cancer cases, the culprit is the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), a prevalent sexually transmitted infection affecting the throat, genitalia, and skin. According to WHO, nearly all sexually active individuals will contract this infection at some point, often without discernible symptoms.

In most instances, the immune system clears the virus from the body. However, persistent infections may lead to the emergence of anomalous cells, predisposing them to cancer. While the transformation of abnormal cells into cancer typically takes 15-20 years, in women with compromised immune systems, this process can transpire in a mere 5-10 years.

Mothers in their youth, users of hormonal contraceptives, smokers, and those with other sexually transmitted infections face an elevated risk of developing cervical cancer.

Symptoms And Treatments

Per WHO, the following are prevalent symptoms associated with cervical cancer:

  • Unusual bleeding between menstrual cycles, post-menopause, or after sexual intercourse.
  • Increased or malodorous vaginal discharge.
  • Persistent discomfort in the back, legs, or pelvis.
  • Weight loss, fatigue, and diminished appetite.
  • Vaginal discomfort.
  • Swelling in the legs.

A diagnostic examination by a medical professional is imperative to confirm the presence of cervical cancer. Treatment modalities encompass surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and ancillary care for pain management.

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