Description of the disease
Cancer is a group of diseases that have in common the uncontrolled growth of cells. Any collection of abnormal cells is known as a tumor. The cells of a benign tumor do not spread beyond their initial location; a tumor becomes malignant when the cells spread (or metastasize) to other areas of the body. Cancer is diagnosed when a tumor is found to be malignant and thus has the potential to spread.
Cervical cancer is caused by certain types of HPV. When a female is infected with these types of HPV, and the virus doesn’t go away on its own, abnormal cells can develop in the lining of the cervix. If these abnormal cells are not found early through routine cervical cancer screening and treated, pre-cancers and then cervical cancer can develop.
Avoid developing cancer in the first place, especially since the treatments are often only partially effective and frequently almost as unpleasant as ...view middle of the document...
You can control some of them, but not all of them. Those you can't control include genetics or family history, and environmental exposures or behaviors that occurred in the past. Those you can control include your current and future behavior, including diet and exercise, and your current and future environmental exposures, such as to tobacco smoke or other chemicals. Remember that risk factors are not absolute: having one or more risk factors does not mean you will definitely get cancer, and avoiding risk factors does not guarantee you will be healthy. But they certainly affect your odds.
Lifestyle choices you can make in your life to decrease your modifiable risk factors for this disease
Screening tests, or early detection, are designed to find cancer when it's most likely to be treatable. The best screening tests discover tumors before they become malignant (when they are still "pre-cancer"). A screening test looks for signs of cancer in people who have no symptoms. A positive screening test is typically followed by more testing to determine if the person actually has cancer and how advanced it might be.
Screening tests typically offer the most benefit to those at highest risk, and cervical cancer is generally diagnosed in women with risk factors. Thus, a Pap smear (the main screening test for cervical cancer) is recommended for all women who have ever been sexually active, and is especially important for those at higher risk. While Pap smears can be performed every 3 years in many women, higher risk women and those with a history of abnormal Pap smears should be screened more often.
Effective screening tests are only available for 4 kinds of cancer: colon cancer, breast cancer, cervical cancer, and prostate cancer. (There is ongoing controversy about whether prostate cancer screening is effective at all). Right now, other types of cancers do not have effective screening tests. All of our Health Risk Profiles tell you when you are most likely to benefit from a screening test; be sure to talk with your doctor for more information.