Cervical cancer is a slow growing cancer that can have serious and even deadly consequences if left untreated. But when caught early, treatment is available to limit the growth of cervical cancer.
The uterus, also called the womb, is the place in a woman’s body where a baby grows during pregnancy. The bottom of the uterus is called the cervix. The cervix connects the main part of the uterus to the vagina, which is also called the birth canal. Cervical cancer is a disease in the cervix that develops when cells in the cervix grow out of control and form a tumor. Cervical cancer is most often caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) which is passed from person to person by genital contact during sex.
Risk Factors for HPV
You are more likely to catch HPV if you:
• Have multiple sexual partners
• Have HIV or if your immune system is impaired
• Don’t get regular pap tests
Any woman who has had genital contact with another person can get HPV, no matter how many partners she has. Most women’s bodies are able to fight the HPV infection, so most women who have HPV will not get cervical cancer. But in some cases, the human papillomavirus does lead to cancer.
Early detection lowers risks
Most cervical cancer begins in the lining of the cervix. Cells typically go through pre-cancerous changes before turning into cancer cells. In most cases, it takes several years for cells to become truly cancerous, but in some cases, cancer can develop much more quickly. This is why it’s critical for women to get regular pap tests as recommended by their gynecologist or other doctor to make sure pre-cancerous cells are detected early.
During a pap test, your doctor will take a small sample of the cells from your cervix and look at them under a microscope to check for abnormal cells that could be starting the process of turning into cancer cells. If pre-cancerous cells are caught early, treatment is available to keep the cells from turning into cancer.
Protect against HPV