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Cervical Cancer

Cervical Cancer was the second most common cancer among women in Peninsular Malaysia during the years 2003-2005 (National Cancer Registry 2003-2005). In Malaysia, cancer of cervix had increased in the age group of 60 – 69 years.

What is Cervical Cancer?

Cervical cancer is an abnormal growth of cells in the cervix (the organ connecting the uterus and vagina). Cervical cancer is almost always caused by Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. It is usually a slow-growing cancer that may not have symptoms but can be found with regular Pap tests.

Routine screening for cervical abnormalities can detect early-stage cancer and precancerous conditions that could progress to invasive disease. The process begins with a Pap test, also known as a Pap smear.

Type of Cervical Cancer

There are several types of cervical cancer:

  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) is the most common type of cervical cancer. It develops from the flat cells, which cover the outer surface of the cervix at the top of the vagina.
  • Adenocarcinoma develops from the column-shaped cells that line the mucous-producing glands of the cervix. In rare instances, adenocarcinoma originates in the supportive tissue around the cervix.
  • Less common types of cancer of the cervix known as adenosquamous carcinoma, clear-cell and small-cell carcinomas.

What Causes Cervical Cancer?

Medical history and lifestyle - especially sexual habits - play a role in a woman's chances of developing cervical cancer.

The most significant risk factors are:

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Sexual history

Various other risk factors have also been identified.

What are the Symptoms of Cervical Cancer?

Symptoms of cervical cancer don't usually appear until the abnormal cells invade nearby tissue. Symptoms can include:

  • Abnormal bleeding
  • Heavier, long-lasting periods
  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • Pelvic pain