October is Cancer Awareness month.  Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer amongst women – with breast cancer being the most common.  It is one of the most common cancers affecting a woman’s reproductive organs.  Cervical cancer develops in the lining of the cervix – the lower part of the uterus that opens into the vagina.  Cells change from normal to pre cancer and then to cancer after a number of years.  In most cases, cervical cancer is caused by the HPV infection.  The HPV infection can be passed on from one person to another through sexual or skin to skin contact.

There are really no symptoms in the early stages of cervical cancer.  However – some people may have symptoms if the cell changes in the cervix grow into cervical cancer.  Symptoms of cervical cancer may include:

  • Pain in the pelvis or lower body.
  • Abnormal menstruation – spotting, heavy flow, irregular menstruation.
  • Pain during sexual intercourse.
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge.
  • Weight loss, fatigue, nausea.

 Here are some tips to fight cervical cancer;

Pap smear:  It is very important for women to have routine pap smears to detect precancerous cell changes while it’s still early.  A pap smear is a procedure used to collect cells from the surface of the cervix and the vagina.  A small wooden stick, a brush or a piece of cotton is used to gently scrape cells from the cervix and the vagina.  The cells are then viewed under a microscope to see if everything is normal.  The doctor may perform a biopsy if abnormal cells are found.

Diet:  Have a diet rich in fruit & vegetables, beans & legumes as well as whole grains.  Choose foods that are low in calories and avoid eating processed meat.  Go for healthier options such as fish.  Green, leafy vegetables are rich in folic acid which can protect you against precancerous changes in the cervix.  Also include foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as: salmon, walnuts and chia seeds.  Green tea is a drink that is well known for its numerous health benefits which include antioxidants that help prevent the division and multiplication of cancer cells.

 

Practice safe sex:  Always use a condom when you have sex and also limit your number of sexual partners.  The more unprotected se you have – the higher your chances of contracting sexually transmitted infections such as HPV which is associated with cervical cancer.

Become physically active:  Being physically active helps you maintain a healthy weight which might assist in reducing the risks of cervical cancer.