Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix — the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. It is commonly caused due to prolonged infection with human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection. However, it is also a kind of cancer which is highly preventable. You can greatly reduce your risk of developing cervical cancer with regular screening tests and receiving a vaccine that protects against HPV infection. If discovered at an early stage, there are high chances of survival from this deadly cancer.
Women with HIV infections have a greater risk of getting cervical cancer. Other lifestyle factors that increase the changes of cervical cancer are smoking, early menarche, late menopause, oral contraceptive, multiple sex partners and poor genital hygiene.
Cervival cancer can also be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, exercising regularly and quitting smoking may reduce your chances of getting this cancer.
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“Diet can affect your chance of getting cervical cancer. Women with obesity are more likely to develop a certain type of cervical cancer. Women whose diets are low in fruits and vegetables are also at higher risk of developing cervical cancer,” says Dr Akshay Shah, Consultant Medical Haemato-oncology and Stem Cell Transplant, Global Hospital, Parel, Mumbai.
Sign and symptoms of cervical cancer
Blood spots or light bleeding between or following period, bleeding after intercourse, when douching or pelvic examination increases vaginal discharge, pain during sexual intercourse, post-menopausal bleeding, unexplained persistent pelvic or back pain, itching and burning sensation in the vagina, unexplained fatigue, frequent or urgent urination, abdominal bloating are some of the symptoms of cervical cancer.
Tips to prevent cervical cancer
Here are some lifestyle changes that can help prevent cervical cancer in women, suggested by Dr Shah:
Kicking the butt can help boost the immune system and reduce risk of cervical cancer and other health problems.
Regular exercise can help boost energy, mood, and the immune system. In cancer patients, doing exercise on a daily basis will help to reduce the stress of cancer and its treatment. In fact, several studies have shown that cancer patient who do regular exercise can greatly improve physical and mental health during every phase of treatment.
Avoid consuming birth control pills
Washing hands or using hand sanitizer often can reduce the risk of infection. Avoid consuming birth control pills as it associated with an increased risk of cervical cancer.
Avoid multiple sex partners
Women who tend to have multiple sexual partners are at a higher risk of getting cervical cancer because a higher number of partners increases the chance of a person’s exposure to HPV. So, it is always advisable to have safe sex methods.
Regular pap smear or Screening
Regular pap smear and liquid-based cytology after the age of 30 years for HPV is advised. The Pap test and the HPV test can help prevent cervical cancer or find it early.
Make dietary changes
Consume plenty of fruit, vegetables and health food to prevent risk of cervical cancer. Obese women are more likely to develop cervical cancer. Women whose diets are low in fruits and vegetables are also at higher risk of developing cervical cancer.
Though cervical cancer can strike anyone at any age, one should be aware of the changes that occur in the body and report abnormalities on an immediate basis.