How can you get cervical cancer?
One of the strongest risk factors for cervical cancer is the infection with human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a sexually transmitted infection and asymptomatic in most people. In a small percentage of people, the virus survives for years, contributing to the process that causes some cervical cells to become cancer cells. A few common risk factors that can trigger cervical cancer in HPV infected individuals are
- Having sex before the age of 16 years or within a year of starting period
- Multiple sexual partners
- Weakened immune system (human immunodeficiency virus or HIV infected patients, transplant recipients)
- Exposure to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
What are the different stages and types of cervical cancer?
Five main stages of cervical cancer are
- Stage 0: Abnormal cells in the innermost lining of the cervix may become cancerous.
- Stage I: Cancer is in the cervix only.
- Stage II: Cancer is beyond the cervix, but it is not in the pelvic wall or the lower third of the vagina.
- Stage III: Cancer is in the lower third of the vagina or the pelvic wall. Cancer may be causing problems in the kidneys.
- Stage IV: Cancer has spread past the pelvis, and it is in the lining of the bladder, rectum, or distant organs, such as the lymph nodes, lungs, liver or bone.
With regular screening and early diagnosis, most cervical cancers can be detected in time. Three main types of cervical cancer are:
- Squamous cell carcinoma (cancer) develops in the lining of the cervix. It is found in 80 to 90 percent of cervical cancer cases.
- Adenocarcinoma is a cancerous tumor that develops in the cells that produce mucus in the cervix. Approximately 10 to 20 percent of cervical cancers are adenocarcinomas.
- Adenosquamous or mixed carcinoma (cancer) involves both adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
Other types of cancer may be found in the cervix, including neuroendocrine, melanoma, sarcoma and lymphoma; however, these are rare.