What is Cervical Cancer?
Cervical cancer mainly affects women aged 30-45. It develops in a woman’s cervix, the entrance to the womb from the vagina. It can take months or even years to advance and mainly affects sexually active women. It is important to get a Cervical Check regularly. Evidence has linked certain human papillomavirus (HPV) strains (about 140 in total) to the development of abnormal cervical cells. There are 14 high-risk HPV types, in particular types 16 and 18 are linked to cervical cancer.
How can I catch HPV and develop Cervical Cancer?
Almost all cervical cancer cases (99.7%) are the result of chronic HPV infections that cause changes to the cells lining the cervix. HPV is sexually transmitted through skin-to-skin contact or an exchange of bodily fluids. This includes unprotected oral, vaginal and anal intercourse, as well as sharing sex toys. Once infected with a high-risk HPV strain, cervical cells will stop working normally and start dividing uncontrollably, leading to the growth of a cancerous tumour.
What are the symptoms and signs of Cervical Cancer?
An infection with cancer-inducing HPV does not usually show any symptoms until it reaches advanced stages.
However, if visible, symptoms will include the following:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding (usually the first noticeable symptom of cervical cancer, including bleeding after sex, inbetween periods or after you have been through menopause)
- Discomfort or pain during sexual intercourse
- Unusual or unpleasant vaginal discharge
- Pain in your lower back or pelvis.
Advanced cervical cancer symptoms include:
- Severe vaginal bleeding
- Blood in urine
- Extreme pain in your side or back caused by your kidneys
- Swelling of one or both of your legs
- Urinary or bowel incontinence
- An increased need to urinate or defecate (bowel movement).
Therefore, getting tested is vital to protect your personal health.
Did you know? …
61% of women aged 25−35 are unaware that they are at high risk of cervical cancer. Read more here.
How can Cervical Cancer and HPV be tested/checked?
At Better2Know clinics, HPV screening is the primary test for cervical screens. Evidence shows that HPV testing is sensitive and will help identify women at risk of cervical cancer at an earlier stage. If your HPV test is positive, a smear test will be conducted automatically. Better2Know provides confidential HPV and smear tests ('PAP' smear, which is used to detect potentially precancerous and cancerous processes in the cervix) at many of our private sexual health clinics in the UK. We will use a single vaginal swab sample for the tests. Better2Know will contact you with your results within 2−5 working days after receiving your sample.
If your HPV test is positive, and your smear test detects any unusual changes to the cells lining your cervix, Better2Know will make the necessary arrangements for you to access any further tests you need. If you are experiencing any symptoms, you should make an appointment with a doctor as soon as possible. Our sexual health advisors can arrange same day or next day appointments at a time and date that suits you.
What are the risks associated with HPV/Cervical Cancer?
If you remain untested and untreated, then you could suffer from the advanced stages of cervical cancer, early menopause, a build-up of fluid in the affected tissues, blood clots or kidney failure. Therefore, it is important to get tested regularly and, if necessary, to start a treatment plan.
What is the treatment for HPV/Cervical Cancer?
With infections such as cervical cancer and HPV, early detection enables you to receive the treatment you need as soon as possible. Better2Know can arrange a confidential follow-up consultation for you to access the appropriate treatment. Paying regular attention to your cervical health is essential to protect your wellbeing.
Even if you test positive for a high-risk HPV type, it does not mean that you will go on to develop cervical cancer. Your specialist will be able to recommend follow-up tests and advise you on the most appropriate treatment.
Cervical cancer treatment differs depending on the stage of HPV infection and tumour growth. In the early stages, you might undergo surgery to remove a section of your womb, receive radiotherapy to eliminate cancerous cells or a combination of the two. In the later stages, chemotherapy may be combined with radiotherapy; surgery may also be necessary.
Better2Know provides HPV vaccinations for those who are concerned about cervical cancer or HPV. Our vaccine will protect you from several types of the virus, including types 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58, which are associated with causing most cases of HPV-related cancers and genital warts. You will need 3 doses of the vaccine to be fully protected. Each dose will be administered at intervals of 1−2 months and 6−12 months. A booster dose is also advised once every 5 years.
Book your HPV/Cervical Cancer test
Better2Know is the world's leading provider of private sexual health testing services. We will arrange a clinic appointment or home testing kit quickly, and deliver fast and accurate results for your peace of mind. If you have any concerns about your sexual health, please contact us or call our friendly booking team on the number above.