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Advances In Early Detection Methods For Cervical Cancer

It begins in the cervix, the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. Even though there are substantial advancements in the prevention and treatment, cervical cancer remains the fourth most common cancer among women globally. Around 604,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 342,000 women die from the disease globally each year.

While innovations in early detection and medications are encouraging, the fight against cervical cancer needs a multi-pronged approach. This involves promoting extensive access to effective screening programs, encouraging immunisation against HPV, and creating awareness about the prominence of healthy lifestyle choices. Dr.Nitish Ranjan Acharya (Surgical Oncology), HCGPanda Cancer Hospital shares the early detection methods for cervical cancer:

Understanding Cervical Cancer, types, and warning signs:

The cervix is the lower part of the uterus connecting it to the vagina. Cervical cancer is often triggered by the Human papillomavirus (HPV), which ascends from irregular cell growth in the cervix. While most HPV viruses clear on their own, certain strains persist, leading to precancerous changes and, if left undetected, it potentially progresses to cervical cancer.

While cervical cancer is denoted as a single entity, it can be differentiated into diverse types:

• Squamous Cell Carcinoma- Approximately 70-80% of cervical cancers are derived from the squamous cells. These cells are thin, flat cells covering the outer surface of the cervix, also known as ectocervix. 

• Adenocarcinoma cancerous cells are formed in glandular cells positioned deep within the cervix, known as the endocervix or cervical canal. This makes up roughly to 20-30% of cervical cancer cases. Adenocarcinomas can at times be more threatening and destructive than squamous cell carcinomas and may spread more quickly. 

• Rare types- Melanomas, Sarcomas, and Lymphomas are the rare types of cancers that are less frequent in the cervix than other parts of the body. 

Possible warning signs and symptoms may include:

• Vaginal Bleeding between periods, after menopause, or after sexual intercourse

• Pelvic discomfort 

• Unusual discharge that may be watery, bloody, or have a strong odor

• Unexpected and constant back pain 

Key factors that drive the rise of growing cervical malignancy:

• Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection: A sexually transmitted infection is primarily considered as an instrumental aspect for the growth of tumorous cells in the cervix

• Poor immune system: Health illnesses like HIV/AIDS can negotiate the body’s capability to combat several infections

• Sexual intercourse and multiple sexual partners: Having multiple sexual partners or having intercourse with an infected person increases the chance of HPV exposure. 

• Smoking and consumption of Tobacco: Tobacco undermines the immune system and increases the risk of HPV persistence.

Diagnosis and Early Detection:

Diagnosis and early detection of cervical cancer at an early stage can substantially enhance the therapy options. Some of the effective methods and elementary screening tools include-

• Pap Test-This test analyses cervical cells for irregularities suggestive of precancerous or cancerous alterations.

• HPV Test-This test detects the presence of HPV, the virus responsible for most of the cervical cancers.

Regular check-ups and screening are advised by the healthcare professionals. Some of the advanced diagnostics are offering new avenues for detection of cervical cancer.

• Colposcopy: Colposcopy is often used in conjunction with the pap tests. This approach involves examination of the cervix in the dubious areas using a magnifying scope.

• Liquid-based Pap Tests: These tests offer improvised precision and ease of interpretation compared to conventional pap stains. 

Beyond Diagnosis:  Dietary Considerations

• Ensure to have fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants, these enhance overall physical condition and well-being

• Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids can play a paramount role in lowering infections and promoting immune function

• Consume whole grains as much as possible, as these provide fibre, improve hormone balance, and help in detoxification

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