Cervical cancer, the silent enemy of women

Cervical cancer is one of the most common female cancers worldwide. According the World Health Organization (WHO), there are 600,000 new cases and more than 300,000 deaths in 2020.

Ayda María Martínez Ipuz

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Therefore, the call for prevention against its silent progression is reiterated. For every two women who have the disease, one dies. Most of them are young, in their productive age, and the driving force behind family and social development.

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The fact is that the disease has a higher incidence in low-income countries, with almost double the cases, and its mortality rate is three times higher than that of high-income countries. In Latin America, new cases were reported in women aged 35 to 54, and mortality was higher than 90% among women aged 20 to 34 with late diagnosis.

Therefore, the WHO's call is for 90% of girls under 15 to be vaccinated against the human papillomavirus, 70% of women of screening age to have access to diagnostic tests, and 90% of women diagnosed with this cancer to be treated timely and appropriately. While the world advances with vaccination and advanced treatments, cervical cancer persists as a public health problem. The key is to attend regular check-ups and seek medical attention in the presence of symptoms.

What are the symptoms of Cervical cancer?

According to the National Cancer Institute, Uterine cancers can be of two types: endometrial cancer (common) and uterine sarcoma (rare). Endometrial cancer can often be cured. Uterine sarcoma is often more aggressive and harder to treat.

Generally, cervical cancer does not present symptoms at the beginning, which complicates its detection., the symptoms in the early stage are:

• Vaginal bleeding after having sexual intercourse.

• Vaginal bleeding after menopause.

• Vaginal bleeding between menstrual periods, heavy menstrual periods, or periods that last longer than usual.

• Thin, watery vaginal discharge with a strong odor or mixed with blood.

• Pelvic pain or pain during sexual intercourse.

Other symptoms that may occur in advanced stages:

• Difficulty or pain when passing stool, or bleeding from the rectum during bowel movements.

• Difficulty or pain when urinating, or blood in the urine.

• Dull back pain.

• Swelling of the legs.

• Abdominal pain.

• Feeling tired.

Clara Inés Arango Delgado, Medical Oncology Manager at GSK Colombia, believes that women should be aware of their family's history of oncological conditions, as up to 10% of ovarian cancer patients have a genetic history.

She also emphasizes the importance of adopting lifestyle habits that help reduce risk factors such as maintaining a healthy weight, engaging in physical activity, eating a balanced diet, and avoiding tobacco and alcohol consumption.

"We know that cancer prevention and early detection saves lives, and we are committed to women's well-being by raising awareness of the types of cancer that can affect them and the symptoms to watch out for," said Clara Inés.

Cervical cancer is a silent disease in its early stages, so it is crucial to see a doctor regularly, even without any symptoms. Don't wait for all symptoms to appear before seeing a gynecologist and receiving timely treatment.

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