Cervical Cancer in the Modern Age: Insights into Its Growing Impact on Women's Health

Jason Butler

An insight into cervical cancer, a growing illness in females

The cervix is a part of a female's reproductive system. It is the opening of the vagina (the birth canal). Under normal conditions, it comprises squamous epithelial and glandular tissues. However, abnormal growth of these cells leads to cancer, and the most common of them is "squamous cell carcinoma." 

Cervical cancer is a severe challenge in underdeveloped countries due to a lack of knowledge and limited preventive measures and treatment. Here, we discuss the major causes, symptoms, and valuable ways to prevent this disease.


The majority of the cases reported have shown the infection of the virus, namely human papillomavirus (HPV), and this is the leading cause of cervical cancer. The use of immunosuppressive drugs, early sexual activity, taking excessive birth control pills, and smoking have also contributed to this ailment. Cigarette smoke contains carcinogens that, with prolonged smoking, accumulate in the mucus lining of the cervix and, over time, affect immunity. Once the immune system is hampered, the infection spreads rapidly, risking the person's life.

It is important to note that the history of other sexually transmitted diseases plays a crucial role in cancer diagnosis. Particularly in low-income countries, the lack of effective screening programs and HPV vaccines has led to the spread of this deadly disease, causing mortality rates to increase with each passing year as more and more cases are reported.

Early symptoms

During an early stage, various symptoms might indicate the development of cancerous cells in the cervix. The most common signs and symptoms include:

  1. Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  2. Noticeable change in the vaginal discharge in terms of color or thickness, bad odor, etc. In some cases, it may also contain pus.
  3. Recurrent pelvic pain
  4. Bleeding after menopause
  5. Persistent burning sensation during urination
  6. Prolonged fatigue and weakness

These are some of the warning signs for females. If any of these symptoms appear for a long time, she must immediately seek medical advice from the doctor and get her treatment done in time to ensure safety.


A combination of medical laboratory tests and physical examination of the patient form the diagnosis part. Initially, the doctor takes the medical history of the patient, inquires about her sexual activity, and also notes down the family history of cancer. Imaging testing that includes MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), CT scan (computed tomography), and ultrasound might also be performed during a thorough physical examination to analyze and evaluate the condition. Also, it might be helpful to study the cancer stage to guide the medical practitioner in the treatment process.

Pap smear test (Pap test) is when the doctor inserts a smear and collects the cells lining the cervix. These are observed under a microscope to detect abnormalities and irregularities in the growth of cells. Further testing is based on this test.

Once abnormal cells are detected, other testing procedures are done to confirm the early cancerous stage.

Furthermore, a positive HPV laboratory test might indicate the presence of cancerous cells in the cervix, leading to cervical cancer.

Treatment methods

Cervical cryotherapy and laser ablation have been effective in treating cervical pre-cancerous stage. Laser beams are directed onto the target organ or tissue to damage the cancerous cells present in the layers of the cervical tissue.

If the abnormal cells are present on the surface layer of the cervix, a doctor can merely carry out a LEEP procedure to remove them. Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure uses a wire loop electrode ( acts as a scalpel) that is heated by electric current and inserted through the speculum to remove the abnormal tissue from the surface of the cervix. The recovery time is about 3 to 4 weeks, and the patient feels good once recovered.

Surgery, chemoradiation and chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and targeted drug therapy are some of the common ways of treating the disease. However, it all depends on the stage and extent of the cancer and the patient's age and general health. Usually, a combination of radiation and chemotherapy methods is employed to destroy the cancerous cells. The most used chemotherapy drugs combined include cisplatin, carboplatin, irinotecan, etc. These effectively shrink tumor cells and kill them.

Targeted therapy comes in handy since it uses drugs that inhibit the action of enzymes or proteins involved in the spread of cancerous cells. This helps to reduce further health risks.

In some cases, immunotherapy is also recommended to help a patient fight against the disease by enhancing the activity of her immune system. This way, the patient's cells fight against the infected cells and destroy them. Immunotherapy drugs are given, and their response is studied through biomarker tests. 

Surgery is sometimes done under the advanced cancer stage where the cervix or uterus is removed or even pelvic exenterating is done to recover the health of the patient.

After the treatments, a patient is advised to keep visiting the doctor and continue running the mandatory tests such as routine blood tests and x-ray scans to monitor her health and see the response of the treatment methods. This way, a doctor will quickly see if the woman needs further medication or treatment and when she is healed to stop the treatment. 

To prevent cervical cancer, one can take care of one's diet, including regular physical activity, quit smoking and alcohol, get an HIV test done at least once a year if you are sexually active, and get the HPV vaccine.