Cervical cancer kills thousands of women around the world each year. Women of any age are susceptible to getting cervical cancer.
In 2016, about 13,000 American women were diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer. An estimated 4,000+ of these women will lose their lives at some point after the diagnosis.
The good news is that advancements in pap screening and HPV testing have reduced the number of new cervical cancer diagnoses for women. But despite this achievement, cervical cancer is still the number two cancer to kill women yearly.
Would you like to know more facts about cervical cancer? Here are the top five facts you should know.
1) HPV is the primary reason for the development of cervical cancer
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the primary cause of cervical cancer in women. However, men and women are susceptible to contracting and transmitting HPV through intimate skin-to-skin contact during sex. They are also vulnerable to developing various types of cancer if they have a high-risk HPV infection, such as anal cancer, throat cancer, vulval cancer, vaginal cancer, and penile cancer.
2) Cervical cancer is preventable in most cases
Since HPV is the primary cause of cervical cancer in women, you can prevent getting cervical cancer by preventing yourself from getting an HPV infection. The best way to do that is to receive the HPV vaccine as early as possible. The vaccine will assist your immune system in producing the antibodies needed to protect the body from high-risk HPV infections.
3) Not all HPV strains lead to cancer
HPV is not a single virus. It is a group comprising over 150 different strains of similar viruses. The average sexually active man and woman will contract HPV at least once within their lifetimes. Fortunately, most people acquire HPV strains that don’t cause any symptoms or cancers. Only a small number of HPV strains are considered “high-risk” and lead to cancer.
4) Smoking increases your cervical cancer risk
Women have double the chance of developing cervical cancer if they are smokers. The reason is that smoking deteriorates the immune system to the point where it has difficulty eliminating HPV infections. A woman needs the strongest immune system possible to eliminate high-risk HPV infections, so smoking worsens the cancer risk factor.
5) There are no visible early warning signs
Cervical cancer has no recognizable early warning signs or symptoms. Most HPV-infected people won’t know if they are in the early stages of cervical cancer unless they get tested early. Otherwise, if the person waits for symptoms to become noticeable, the cancer would have already progressed to the point where it is difficult to slow down or stop. These symptoms may include abnormal bleeding, pelvic pain, abnormal menstrual cycles, unusual discharge, and pain during sex.