It is a cancer involving a sexually transmitted virus: HPV (Human Papilloma Virus). Some so-called human papillomavirus oncogenes induce non-benign lesions such as warts, papillomas or warts, while types called “oncogenes” are responsible for cancer of the cervix.
The HPV virus is found in 99.7% of cancers of the cervix uterus2, they are considered a necessary cause of cervical cancer. Women are exposed to HPV from their very first sexual intercourse, with or without penetration. Over 50% of them will contract one or more HPV infections during their life.
However, a large majority (70%) of these infections are transient, because viruses are generally eliminated by the phenomenon of “natural clearance” of women.. Unfortunately, some women, HPV infection persists and may develop into precancerous lesion, intraepithelial, can lead, years later, cancer. Cancer develops into effect in stages over a period ranging from 5 to 15 years, which starts after persistent infection with oncogenic HPV, mainly related to HPV types-16 and HPV-18.
All sexually active women are likely to be infected with an oncogenic HPV and condoms can not protect themselves completely from this infection because HPV is present throughout the genital area. Thus, a simple skin contact and / or mucus in the genital area may be sufficient to transmit HPV.
To avoid cancer of the cervix, it is necessary to conduct a screening test regularly. It is recommended that a Pap smear every three years for women aged 20-25 to 65 years after two normal smears a year apart.
Worldwide, cancer of the cervix is the 2nd most common cancer in women with more than 500 000 new cases estimated in 2005. This is the 1st cause of cancer death in women. In 2005 he led nearly 260 000 deaths, almost 95% in countries developement5.
In the European Union, where many countries have established a screening program for cervical cancer, the disease is still the 9th most common cancer women with nearly 30 400 new cases estimated in 2004. Mortality is estimated at 13 500 deaths each year (twelfth position in women) 5.
According to the National Cancer Institute, cancer of the cervix has declined consistently since 1978. In Europe, it is the 10th most common cancer in women frequency, with 3068 estimated cases for 2005 and 15th overall by his death in 1067 with 20,055 deaths estimated.
No clinical signs are associated with precancerous lesions caused by HPV infection at the cervix. These lesions are not painful and does not give rise to bleeding. In rare cases they can be visible at speculum examination performed by the physician.
At the stage of cancer, clinical signs may be totally absent, especially early in the disease.Sometimes, cancer of the cervix can occur by spontaneous pain and / or bleeding during sexual intercourse.
At the stage of invasive cancer if the tumor is large, they compress the adjacent organs and may show signs of urinary or with frequent desire to urinate, or difficulty in urination or fecal problems with for example the presence of constipation.
Currently, prevention of cervical cancer through regular screening for cervical precancerous lesions and cancer caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). In the absence of screening and treatment, cancerous lesions can become cancerous tumors that develop locally first and then secondarily invade other body parts.
The HPV vaccine has emerged very recently and for young girls before the onset of sexual activity or at the latest during the first year of sexual life. If the vaccine reduced the risk of contamination, their protection is not absolute and therefore provides no way of screening.
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Cervical cancer facts