The organ that connects the uterine to the vagina is the cervix. It appears like a narrow tubular passage that forms the lower end of the uterus. The cervix has several functions and purposes; some of them are to help in childbirth, menstrual cycle, and to allow the sperm to reach the uterus. This tiny 2-inches long organ has a vital role to play in a woman’s body. However, along with being an important organ, it is sensitive to conditions like chronic inflammation, dysplasia, polyps, and cancer.
The cervix is vulnerable to cancer; however, unlike other types of cancer, the symptoms are seldom displayed in the case of cervical cancer. Therefore, to make people, especially women, around the world aware of cervical cancer and its inadequacy to send early signals, doctors and health organizations encourage women to get regular screening through Pap smear tests. Pap smear, also known as a Pap test, is a painless procedure that is used by gynecologists to check the occurrence of any abnormal or cancerous activity in the cervix. It can also be considered as a preventive measure.
Pap smear, being one of the most trusted preventive diagnostic measures for cervical cancer, also has some guidelines, as mentioned here:
- Women should get their first Pap test at the age of 21.
- Women between 21 and 29 years should have a Pap test once every three years.
- Women between 30 and 65 years are recommended to take a Pap test along with an HPV test every 5 years, or they can take a Pap test alone every 3 years.
- Women over 65 years of age should stop taking a Pap test, provided they don’t have a history of moderate or severe abnormal cervical cells or cancer.
Causes and risk factors of cervical cancer
Just like any other disease and illness, cervical cancer also has many causes and risk factors. Some popular risk factors and causes of cervical cancer are mentioned below:
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection
- A weak immune system
- A diet low in fruits and vegetables
- Being overweight
- Prolonged use of oral birth control pills
- Multiple full-term pregnancies
- A family history of cervical cancer
Preventing cervical cancer
As there are multiple causes and risk factors of cervical cancer, it is important to take measures to keep oneself away from these risks. The measures include the following:
- Take regular Pap tests for early diagnosis of cervical cancer
- Switch to a healthy balanced diet that includes a good amount of fruits and vegetables
- Exercise regularly to maintain a healthy and strong immune system
- Get routine health check-ups
- Quit or cut down on the habits of smoking and drinking alcohol
- Maintain a healthy weight by control diet and exercising
- Keep a healthy mind
Once one introduces healthy changes in their life, they can fight the chances of developing not only cervical cancer but also various other types of illnesses and diseases. Additionally, one can also visit their gynecologist or physician to discuss their family history of illnesses to identify any possibility of the development of cancer, thereby ensuring that they take the necessary measures to control cancer from developing.