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Cervical Cancer-Causes and Testing for Diagnosis

Cervical Cancer-Causes and Testing for Diagnosis

by: Dr. Sonica Chugh
Consultant - Obstetrics & Gynecology

What causes cervical Cancer?

Genital Human papilloma virus (HPV) is a very common virus in both men and women that can lead to the development of genital warts, abnormal cervical cells or cervical cancer.

This virus can cause normal cells on your cervix to turn abnormal. Over many years, abnormal cells can turn into cancer if they are not found and treated by your doctor. It can take 10 to 15 years (or more) for cells to change from normal to abnormal, and then into cancer. Abnormal cells are sometimes called ‘pre cancer ‘ because they are not normal, but they are not yet cancer.

You cannot see or feel HPV or these cell changes on your cervix. Screening tests help us to look for these changes or for abnormal cells

How is HPV spread?

HPV is transmitted during genital skin to-skin sexual contact. This includes vaginal or anal sex and possibly oral sex.A person can get HPV even if years have passed since he or she had sex. They will never know it because HPV usually has no signs and symptoms.

In most cases, HPV goes away within two years, without causing any health problems. It is thought that the immune system  fights off HPV infection naturally

Cervical Cancer Causes

What screening tests exist for HPV- related diseases?

Cervical Cancer: Cervical cancer can be detected with routine Cervical cancer screening (Pap test) and follow-up of abnormal results. The Pap test can find abnormal cells on the cervix so that they can be removed before cancer develops.    Abnormal cells often become normal over time, but can sometimes turn into cancer. These cells can usually be treated, depending on their severity and on the woman’s age, past medical history, and other test results.

An HPV DNA test, which can find certain HPV types on a woman’s cervix, may also be used with a Pap test in certain cases (called co-testing). The HPV-DNA test is done to determine if you are infected with one of the high-risk types or if your doctor finds certain type of abnormal Pap test result.

Even women who were vaccinated when they were younger need regular cervical cancer screening because the vaccines do not protect against all cervical cancer strains.

Is there a treatment for HPV or related problems?

HPV vaccination could prevent most cancers and other diseases caused by HPV. There is no treatment for the virus itself, but there are treatments for the problems that HPV can cause:

Visible genital warts may remain the same, grow more in number, or go away on their own. The warts can be treated when they appear.

Abnormal cervical cells (found on a Pap test) often become normal over time, but they can sometimes turn into cancer. If they remain abnormal, these cells can usually be treated to prevent cervical cancer from developing. This may depend on the severity of the cell changes, the woman’s age , past medical history, and other test results. It is critical to follow up with testing and treatment, as recommended by a doctor.

Post detection of ovarian cancer the doctors , depending on your cancer stage can recommend the treatment more- surgery, medical treatment, radiation therapy or chemotherapy.

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