Cervical cancer is one of the top three cancers among women globally. Cervix is the short part at the end of uterus that opens it into the vaginal tract. The wall of cervix is made of many layers and the innermost layer undergoes many changes throughout the life & menstrual cycle of the woman.
A virus known as HPV is one of the most common causes that lead to cancer of the cervix. This virus commonly enters the cervix through sexual activity if your partner is also harbouring the infection. The best way to protect yourself from any future infection is to lower your risk by practising safe sex and maintaining intimate hygiene. Vaccine against HPV is also available and can be prescribed to early teenagers till menopausal women. Consult your gynaecologist to know more about the type of vaccines available in your area and the protection they offer.
Since there are multiple factors that contribute towards cervical cancer risk, it is useful to get yourself screened for any early signs of infection with HPV or any early changes in the cervix. Pap Smear is a simple pain-free test that can be performed by your gynaecologist to look for these early changes. The process of the test involves a simple stroke of light brushing of the cervical lining to collect superficial cells from the cervix. A pathologist then checks for any signs of inflammation or any changes suggestive of cervical cancer in these cells under the microscope. Since early detection of cervical cancer remarkably improves the chances of its treatment, it is important to get a Pap Smear test done at least once in two years upon initiation of sexual activity.
It is ideal to schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss your individual history and exposure level to understand the risk you may have. There are plenty of genetic and environmental factors to be considered as well and it is important to evaluate your individual risk before any symptoms appear.