Cervical Cancer: Symptoms and Causes

Cancer occurs when cells begin to grow continuously and out of control. This can happen in many different areas of the body and metastasize to other areas of the body. Cervical cancer occurs when cells inside the cervix begin to grow uncontrollably. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus connecting to the upper part of the vagina, becoming the birth canal. Cervical cancer usually begins in the transformation zone and is caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). Often times women show no signs or symptoms of cervical cancers.

In early stages of cervical cancer, symptoms often won’t appear. When the symptoms we list below appear women should seek medical consultation from a doctor. Women will often mistake the symptoms as the menstrual cycle, a urinary tract infection, or a yeast infection.

Cervical Cancer Symptoms

  • Irregular bleeding between periods

  • Irregular menstrual bleeding

  • Bleeding after menopause

  • Bleeding after pelvic exams or intercourse

  • Pain during intercourse

  • Increased vaginal discharge

  • Persistent pelvic and back pain

If your symptoms are persistent speak with your doctor. The earlier precancerous and cancerous cells are found the better and less chance you face of more serious complications. 

Causes of Cervical Cancer

Over the years studies have allowed scientists and doctors to better understand what causes cervical cancer. Some cancers can be caused by gene mutations that control how quickly cells grow, divide, and die. While not all cancer causes can be explained many of the causes of cervical cancer are due to different strains of human papillomavirus (HPV). Depending on the strain of HPV the cervical cells can be turned from normal to abnormal, or cancerous. 

There are multiple risks that can lead to cervical cancer. Below we list out different risk factors for you to be aware of.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

HPV is the cause of 99% of cervical cancer cases. A sexually transmitted disease, HPV consists of a group of more than 150 viruses some of which cause the growth of papillomas - known as warts. Certain types of HPV are known to cause warts on different areas of the body after skin-to-skin contact. The warts can be in the genital region, hands and feet, or lips and tongue. However, these types of HPV that cause warts are considered low-risk and are not associated with causing cancer.

High-risk HPV types are common in causing cancer of the anus, throat, vagina, penis, and cervix. Often times when the body becomes infected with human papillomavirus, the body will get rid of the infection itself, but if the infection is a high-risk type it may become chronic. Chronic infections can lead to cancer, and are highly linked to cervical cancer.

If you are under the age of 45, as a male or female, consider receiving Gardasil. This is one of the most common vaccinations to help prevent HPV. If you don't fall into the age range of receiving Gardasil it is important to tell a friend or family member with a child that they should consider speaking with a pediatrician about the shots. To avoid HPV you want to practice safe sex, receive regular screening, and speak with your doctor about preventative methods. If you want to check yourself for HPV order a testing kit from SelfCollect today. 

Smoking

Research over the past few decades has shown that smoking exposes smokers and people nearby to multiple harmful chemicals. When a person smokes the chemicals are taken into the lungs and then taken into the bloodstream. Smoking can create a weakened immune system, which in turn weakens the immune system to fight HPV. 

Chlamydia/Gonorrhea Infection

Receiving any sexually transmitted disease (STD) is not good for your overall health; however, chlamydia and gonorrhea specifically can affect reproductive organs in both men and women. Chlamydia and gonorrhea can lead to pelvatory inflammation disease (PID) which can lead to infertility in women. Because most women do not show symptoms for either of these STDs it is important that testing be done every 3-6 months, or every 6-12 months in a monogamous relationship. If you are uncomfortable going to your doctor for an exam every few months, or don’t have the time to sit in a doctor’s office every few months order a self testing kit. SelfCollect gives you the ability to test for multiple STDs in the comfort of your own home.

In Conclusion

When discovered early through a Pap test and HPV Testing, cervical cancer is known to be one of the more treatable forms of cancer. Over the years, deaths from cervical cancer have decreased thanks to better testing for HPV and increased testing through pap smears. In order to help prevent HPV causing cervical cancer, it is best to receive the HPV vaccines. A few other ways to help prevent cervical cancer are by practicing safe sex, not smoking, and getting regular screenings. We hope that our article on cervical cancer symptoms and causes helps you to have a better understanding of cervical cancer.