According to Human Papilloma Virus Centre;
- About 14,943 new cases are diagnosed annually (estimates for 2018).
- Ranks as the 2nd leading cause of female cancer.
- 2nd most common female cancer in women aged 15 to 44 years.
- Women at risk: (Female population aged >=15 years) 53.1 million.
Here’s a list of six facts you need to know about cervical cancer:
1. HPV is the #1 cause of cervical cancer.
To find a cure, it’s vital to know the causes. Most cervical cancers are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), a common virus that can be passed from one person to another through sexual activity. Both men and women can be infected with HPV. It can be present for years without causing any symptoms and can be passed on to others without knowing. Learn more about cancers.
The Centers for Diseases Control reports more than 20 million people are currently infected with HPV worldwide and another 6.2 million will contract the virus each year. HPV has also been linked to other cancers including cancer of the throat, penis, anus, vulva and vagina.
2. Most cervical cancer cases are preventable.
Because cervical cancer is typically caused by HPV, the simplest way to prevent cervical cancer is to prevent HPV infection in the first place. Since 2006, a highly effective HPV vaccination has been used. Just like other vaccines, the HPV vaccine helps your immune system create an antibody response that protects your body against the infection. This vaccination is administered in two or three shots over a six-month period to both males and females between the ages of 9-26.
Routine Pap testing is the best way to detect abnormal changes to the cervix before they develop into cancer. Much like removing polyps to prevent colon cancer, treating these abnormal cells can help prevent cervical cancer from forming. More than half of the women in the United States who get cervical cancer have never had or rarely had a Pap test. The Pap test can also identify cervical cancer early – when it is in its most curable stage.
3. Only certain strains of HPV cause cancer.
HPV is serious – but not always a cancer indicator. HPV is a group of more than 150 related viruses. Most men and women who have ever had sex will get HPV at some time in their lives. And while there are strains that can cause cervical cancer and make it the top cause of the disease, as mentioned above, most HPV infections go away without treatment and are not linked to cancer.
4. Smoking and other factors increase the risk of cervical cancer.
Women who smoke are about twice as likely as non-smokers to get cervical cancer. Smoking weakens your immune system, making it more difficult for your body to fight HPV infections on its own.
There is also evidence that long-term use of oral contraceptives as well as being overweight increases the risk of cervical cancer.
Women with a sister or mother who had cervical cancer are two to three times more likely to develop the disease. Talk to your doctor if you have a family history of cervical cancer.
5. There are warning signs, but not early warning signs.
Cervical cancer often presents no symptoms in its early stages, which is why it is often referred to as a “silent killer.” But as the disease progresses, warning signs may present themselves. Examples include pelvic pain, abnormal bleeding, painful urination, unusual discharge, abnormal menstrual cycles, pain or bleeding after sex, anaemia, urinary incontinence, and back pain. If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your doctor right away.
6. Genomics research helps us attack cervical cancer – and all types of cancer.
NFCR has distinguished itself from other organizations by emphasizing long-term, transformative research and working to move people toward cancer genomics and away from the old “location-based” research approaches.