Cervical cancer is the number 1 cancer death cause in Indian women. It is more prevalent in lower socio-economic women.
All women can be at a risk for cervical cancer as it is occurs due to contraction of a virus. HPV (Human papillomavirus) causes cervical cancer and it gets passed on from one person to another during sexual contact. Usually it occurs in women over the age of 30.
Cervical cancer develops when normal cells of the cervix grow uncontrollably, forming a mass (tumour). This tumour can be cancerous or benign. A cancerous (malignant) tumour can spread to other parts of the body and can prove fatal if not detected early and left untreated. Wherein a benign tumour is largely harmless and does not spread.
At some point of time, all sexually active women come in contact with this virus but mostly their bodies are able to fight the HPV infection. But at times the virus leads to cancer.
The woman is at a higher risk of developing cervical cancer post HPV infection if she smokes, have multiple children, used birth control pills for a long time or has HIV infection.
It takes several years for normal cells in the cervix to turn into cancer cells, therefore cervical cancer may not cause symptoms initially. As it grows, pelvic pain, discharge or bleeding from the vagina is noticed.
Regular screening tests in sexually active women can pick the initial changes in the cells of cervix, which may lead to cancer in later stages.
Therefore, preventive healthcare plays a vital role in combating cervical cancer.