Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is potentially preventable, because it has a precancerous stage.

Cervical Cancer

Source: Adapted from Family Medical Adviser, Reader’s Digest

What is cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer has been linked to a virus that is transmitted through sexual intercourse. The human papilloma virus (HPV) is thought to target a number of genes within cells including a tumour suppressor gene called p53. Loss of p53 can lead to a cell becoming cancerous.

Who is at risk for cervical cancer?

The risk of catching the virus may be increased if you:

  • Have unprotected sex;
  • Have many sexual partners.

The risk of cervical cancer is also increased in women who smoke.

Treatment for cervical cancer

Treatment of cervical cancer depends on the stage of the disease and includes major surgery, followed by chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

The earlier cervical cancer is treated, the better the chance of survival. In the first stage of cervical cancer, in which the disease is confined to the cervix itself, 80 per cent of women live more than five years. Once cancer has spread to distant parts of the body, such as the lungs, only 5 per cent of women live more than five years.

Alternative Therapies for Cervical Cancer

Used alongside conventional treatment for cervical cancer, some complementary treatments such as massage and aromatherapy may help to improve general well-being.

Prevention of cervical cancer

  • Use condoms during sex to avoid exposing yourself to HPV.
  • Have regular cervical smears (at least every three years if HPV has been found).
  • Refrain from smoking.
  • Consider the sexual health implications of having multiple sexual partners.