Cervical cancer risk factors refer to the habits or determined socioeconomic conditions that affect the likelihood of contracting this disease. Some factors depend on personal habits that can be changed.
HPV infection is the most common symptom among Cervical cancer risk factors. Approximately 95% of the patients are HPV DNA positive, which is primarily contracted through sexual intercourse or other skin on skin contact in the genital region. Cervical cancer develops slowly over a few years. It causes abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge in some women, while some women do not show any symptoms until later stages.
Cervical Cancer Risk Factors and Symptoms
Risk factors are conditions that increase the possibility of contracting a disease. Cervical cancer risk factors include:
- HPV infection
- Early age of first sexual intercourse
- Multiple sexual partners
- Smoking (active or passive)
- Unhealthy diets
- Family history of cervical cancer
- Multiple births
- Use of birth control pills
The most common symptom of cervical cancer is irregular vaginal bleeding outside of the menstrual period. Although bleeding can be excessive in some cases, it is usually in the form of a few small spots. It can be observed more clearly after sexual intercourse. In advanced stage cases, malodorous vaginal discharge, urine or rectal bleeding may occur.
Approximately 90 percent of women diagnosed have bleeding in the post-menopausal period, and menstrual cycle irregularities are observed in women who are still menstruating in the pre-menopausal period. However, since this symptom can be a sign of different health conditions, other than cancer, specialist doctors should be consulted for diagnosis.
What are the Diagnostic Methods of Cervical Cancer?
Cervical cancer is one of the few cancers that is almost completely preventable. By avoiding the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus, a large extent of cancer risk factor is avoided.
Screening test called pap smear is used to prevent cervical cancer before it occurs. Cells are taken from the cervix and viewed under a microscope to look for abnormalities. In addition, there is a protective vaccine for human papilloma virus. Apart from these, personal precautions such as avoiding smoking, eating fruits and vegetables, and getting rid of excess weight may reduce the risk of cervical cancer.
If your doctor suspects cervical cancer or if abnormal cells are found in the cervical screening test, additional tests will be done for further diagnosis and staging if needed.
- Cone biopsy: In this procedure, performed under general anesthesia, a small cone-shaped section is removed from the cervix and examined in the laboratory.
- Colposcopy: This is an instrument that enables your doctor to take a closer look at the cervix. It is usually not painful, unless a biopsy is required.
- Needle Biopsy: It may be necessary to make a diagnosis by taking biopsy with a needle from the transition area where cancer cells and normal cells are located.