Health

What you should know about cervical cancer and its signs

The lower portion of the uterus that connects to the vagina, or the cervix, is where the cells of the cervical cancer develop. The majority of cervical cancers are brought on by different strains of the sexually transmitted infection known as the human papillomavirus (HPV). The body’s immune system typically stops the virus from causing harm when exposed to HPV. However, in a small percentage of people, the virus endures for years and aids in the process by which some cervical cells develop into cancer cells. Early-stage cervical cancer typically has no symptoms or signs. More severe cervical cancer symptoms and signs include: bleeding after sex, in between periods, or following menopause. Watery, bloody, possibly heavy, and foul-smelling vaginal discharge. Pain in the pelvis or during sexual activity. When healthy cervix-based cells experience DNA changes (mutations), the development of cervical cancer follows. The instructions that tell a cell what to do are encoded in its DNA. Healthy cells develop and proliferate at a specific rate before dying at a specific time. The cells are instructed by the mutations to grow and multiply erratically while remaining alive. A mass of abnormal cells develops as they accumulate (tumor). Cancer cells can invade the tissues in the immediate area and can separate from a tumor to spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body. Although the exact cause of cervical cancer is unknown, HPV is known to play a part. The majority of HPV-positive people do not go on to develop cancer. This means that in addition to genetics, your environment and lifestyle choices also play a role in determining whether you’ll get cervical cancer.

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