Cervical Cancer Awareness

As we welcome September, we are reminded that it's Cervical Awareness Month—a time dedicated to shining a light on a significant health concern that affects women worldwide: cervical cancer. In this month's newsletter, we aim to raise awareness about cervical cancer and its prevention. Knowledge is a powerful tool in safeguarding your well-being, so let's delve into what you need to know:

Understanding Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer occurs when the cells of the cervix undergo abnormal changes, leading to the appearance of abnormal cells in the cervical tissue. The cervix is the vital link between the womb and the female genital organs. This type of cancer typically progresses slowly over time and ranks as the fourth most common cancer in women worldwide. 

The Role of HPV

An astonishing 99% of cervical cancer cases are linked to human papillomaviruses (HPV), a common viral infection transmitted through sexual contact. While most HPV infections resolve without treatment and show no symptoms, persistent infection can lead to cervical cancer. Notably, HPV16 and HPV18 are responsible for most HPV-related cancers, and anyone who has engaged in sexual contact is at risk of HPV infection. Condoms may not offer complete protection as HPV transmission occurs through skin-to-skin contact.

Who's at Increased Risk?

Several factors increase the risk of developing cervical cancer, including:

  1. Persistent HPV infection

  2. Immunosuppression, especially among

    individuals with HIV/AIDS

  3. Smoking

  4. Family history of cervical cancer

  5. Early sexual debut (before 18 years of age)

  6. Multiple sexual partners or a high-risk partner

  7. Prolonged use of oral contraceptives

  8. Giving birth to many children

  9. Obesity 

    Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms

    Early-stage cervical cancer often presents no symptoms, making detection challenging. Symptoms typically manifest after the cancer has progressed. Early-stage symptoms may include:

    1. Vaginal bleeding after sex
    2. Vaginal bleeding after menopause
    3. Vaginal bleeding between periods or unusually

    heavy or prolonged periods
    4. Vaginal discharge with a strong odor or containing blood 5. Pelvic pain or discomfort during sex
    6. Advanced cervical cancer symptoms, where the cancer

    has spread beyond the cervix, may include the above

    symptoms along with:
    7. Pain or difficulty passing stool, or bleeding from the

    rectum during bowel movements
    8. Pain or difficulty urinating, or blood in the urine 9. Dull backache
    10. Swelling in the legs
    11. Abdominal pain
    12. Fatigue

    Prevention is Key

    The good news is that cervical cancer is highly preventable and curable when detected early. You can significantly reduce your risk by:

    1. HPV Vaccination: Consider HPV vaccination, most effec tive when administered before your first sexual encounter.

    2. Routine Cervical Cancer Screening: Ensure you undergo a pap smear at least once every three years.

    3. Prompt Treatment: If an abnormality is detected during screening, follow up with recommended treatment


    4. Empower yourself with knowledge and take proactive steps to protect your health. Remember, early detection can save lives.

    Stay informed, stay healthy, and let's work together to raise awareness about cervical cancer this September.