Cervical cancer is the most common type of cancer in women at the age of 35. It is also the 13th most common cancer overall, with more than 3000 women being diagnosed only in the UK every year.
Although it can be prevented, only 63% of the diagnosed survive for more than 10 years after their diagnosis.
Symptoms of cervical cancer
This type of cancer may have no symptoms at all until it is too late. That is why women should be regularly tested. The most common symptom is bleeding from the vagina and it can happen during or after sex, between periods, or at any time past menopause.
Other possible symptoms include pain or discomfort during sex or a vaginal discharge with an unpleasant smell. Although these symptoms may also be caused by other more common conditions, it is important to immediately visit your doctor if you notice any of them.
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Risk factors for cervical cancer
99.7% of all cases of cervical cancer are caused by high-risk HPV virus. But there are also other factors that increase the risk of this cancer, which can be divided into 3 groups:
- Irregular cervical screening (smear test)
- Factors that increase the exposure to the HPV virus, including a high number of sexual partners, having children at a young age or long-term use of contraceptive pills (more than 10 years), although the benefits of these pills usually overweight the risks.
- Factors that make the body susceptible to infections, including a weak immune system or smoking.
How to get tested?
The most effective way is to make a smear test. Early detection of any change to the cervix can also be crucial. This test should be done from the age of 25 to 50, on every 3 years.