January 2019 is Cervical Health Awareness Month.
Did you know that around 13,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year in the United States? In Canada, around 1,550 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2017 and around 400 women died from the cancer.
Throughout this month, it is important to raise awareness on the issues related to cervical cancer as well as the importance of early detection.
Types of cervical cancer
The cervix is the narrow passage that connects the uterus to the vagina. Cervical cells may change and grow abnormally, which can lead to non-cancerous tumors such as polyps, cysts, or fibroids. In other cases, cervical cells can develop into cancer.
There are two main types of cervical cancer: squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma.
Squamous cell carcinoma of the cervix arises from the round, flat cells (squamous cells) that line the outer part of the cervix. Adenocarcinoma of the cervix arises from the glandular cells that line the passageway that connects the uterus to the vagina.
There are also rare types of cervical cancer, which include adenosquamous carcinoma, glassy cell carcinoma, and mucoepidermoid carcinoma.
Risks for cervical cancer
The main risk factor for cervical cancer is the human papillomavirus (HPV). However, HPV may not cause the disease by itself and other risk factors can act along with HPV to increase an individual’s risk for cervical cancer.
Evidence from research studies indicate the following risk factors for cervical cancer:
- Infection with human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Sexual activity
- Giving birth multiple times
- Infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
- History of sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Oral contraceptives
- Diethylstilbestrol (DES)
Preventing cervical cancer
Cervical cancer can be prevented. It is important for individuals to know the risk factors for cervical cancer so that they can be proactive in reducing their risk.
- “What Is Cervical Cancer? – Canadian Cancer Society”. Www.Cancer.Ca, 2019, http://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-type/cervical/cervical-cancer/?region=on. Accessed 3 Jan 2019.
- “Cervical Health Awareness Month – NCCC”. NCCC, 2019, http://www.nccc-online.org/hpvcervical-cancer/cervical-health-awareness-month/. Accessed 3 Jan 2019.