Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that develops in the cervix. Almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV and are preventable through screenings and vaccination.
Cervical cancer is an ideal case study to highlight how important cancer prevention can be in addressing specific types of cancer.
Pre-cancers of the Cervix
Pre-cancer screening is the most cost-effective way to prevent cancer of the cervix. Women over the age of 21 should talk with their health care provider to establish a schedule for screenings based on risk factors like family history and lifestyle.
Most cervical cancers develop in the transformation zone. This is the area where two different types of cells converge near the lower part of the womb.
There are three main grades of abnormal or pre-cancerous changes. There are:
CIN1 – This is the lowest risk sign of pre-cancer. It is also referred to as mild dysplasia.
CIN2 and CIN3 – These grades are considered more dangerous and affect a larger amount of tissue.
Do Pre-cancer Abnormalities Always Lead to Cancer?
Not all women with signs of pre-cancer will develop clinical cancer. In some cases, the cancerous cells will go away. Other women will develop cancer, particularly cancers that could spread to other parts of the body. Addressing pre-cancer symptoms almost always prevents more invasive kinds of cervical cancer.
What Are the Most Common Type of Cervical Cancer?
The two main types of cervical cancer are squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma.
Squamous cell carcinomas develop from cells in the exocervix, which is the outermost part of the cervix.
Adenocarcinomas develop from gland cells. Adenocarcinomas contribute to cervical cancer when cancerous cells develop in the mucus glands located in the endocervix.
The Importance of Cervical Cancer Screening
Identifying and treating pre-cancer greatly reduces the risk of more invasive treatments or death. The two more important cervical cancer screening tools are the Pap test and HPV test.
A Pap test, also known as a Pap smear, tests a cell and mucus sample collected from the exocervix. Because the test requires expert examination and is more useful when conducted regularly, always schedule Pap tests on the schedule recommended by your doctor.
An HPV test seeks to find the human papillomavirus or HPV. The HPV test is considered more effective than the Pap test to identify cancer, the key is to get screened often, no matter what test your doctor recommends.
Cervical Cancer Statistics
Cervical cancer was considered one of the most dangerous types of cancer. Improved screening and treatment options have greatly reduced the mortality rate of cervical cancer, especially in developed countries with higher quality care.
- About 14,000 women will be diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer per year
- About 4,280 women will die of cervical cancer per year
- Cervical cancer is the most common type of cancer in women between 35 and 44
- Most women diagnosed are 50 years old
- Cervical cancer is only rarely found in women under the age of 20
Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Today
The combination of early screening and improved treatment options has lowered the rate of cervical cancer in the US from 9.7% in 1999 to 7.5% in 2019. The death rate for cervical cancer has also decreased since 1999, down to 2.2% in 2019 from 2.8% in 1999 and 2000.
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