Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among women and the leading cause of death among women in underdeveloped countries. In fact, 500,000 cases are diagnosed each year worldwide. This particular cancer is found mainly in middle-aged to older women; it is very rare to find it in women age fifteen and younger. The average age of women with cervical cancer is age 50-55; however, the cancer begins to appear in women in their twenties (2). It is also found in women of lower-class areas, as they are not able to see a gynecologist to be screened. African American, Hispanic, and Native American women are more prone to developing cervical cancer as well (1).
The cervix is an organ in the female reproductive system; it is the entrance to the uterus. Cancer of the cervix develops in the lining of the cervix. The normal cells go through abnormal changes and become precancerous cells. These changes are called Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia (CIN). CIN is categorized as low grade and high grade. It progresses to one of two conditions: (a) Squamos Intraepithelial Lesion (SIL) which leads to invasive cervical cancer, or (b) Carcinoma in Situ which is non-invasive, or localized, cervical cancer (1).
The causes of cervical cancer are unknown. However, scientists believe that there is a link between two kinds of Human Papallomavirus (HPV) and the cancer. HPV is a group of 100 different viruses. Some types of HPV cause warts and are considered "low-risk" when discussing causes of cervical cancer. However, other types of HPV cause precancerous conditions, resulting in different types of genital cancers, and is therefore considered "high-risk" (1). HPV is a sexually transmitted disease and it is extremely contagious. Recent research has shown that condoms do not completely prevent HPV from being transmitted. Women with HPV usually do not have symptoms, and at times will never develop the cancer; and in the same manner, some women have developed the cancer without ever having had HPV (2).
Also, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) increases the likelihood of the precancerous cells developing into cancer. This occurs because HIV weakens the immune system, and a woman with HIV is unable to fight off HPV and precancerous abnormalities (2). Scientists have also found that smokers are possibly twice as likely to develop cervical cancer. Cigarettes release many chemicals that cause cancer (1). When a woman smokes a cigarette, these chemicals enter her bloodstream, and they are carried to all parts of the body. These chemicals are also believed to damage the DNA in cervical cells (2). Scientists are also examining the effects of Oral Contraceptives. No direct links have been found, but there is some statistical evidence showing that women that have taken Oral Contraceptives for over five years have a low risk of developing the cancer (2).
Often there are no symptoms while developing the cancer. For this reason, it is extremely important for a woman...