How Dangerous is Cervical Cancer? Everything You Need to Know


How Dangerous is Cervical Cancer? Everything You Need to Know

According to a recent study published in The Lancet Public Health on cervical cancer, India recorded the maximum number of cervical cancer cases in Asia. According to the study, 23% of the world's cervical cancer deaths—or 40% of all cervical cancer deaths—occurred in India and 17% in China. In 2020, there were 3,41,831 fatalities worldwide from cancer in vagina and an estimated 6,04,127 new cases.1 

According to the National Cancer Registry Programme, the most prevalent cancers in women are cervix and breast cancer. In India, 6-29% of all cancer cases among women were cervical. According to the data, India recorded about 21% of all cervical cases. Based on the details issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research, AIIMS also estimates that there will be an increase in the number of cases. By 2026, the numbers could go up to 20 lakhs a year. 

Considering the severity, here is everything you need to understand about cervical cancer and its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, risk factors, and preventive guidelines.

What is Cervical Cancer?

Cervical cancer develops in a woman's cervix, which is the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. It occurs when precancerous cells on the surface of the cervix grow out of control and form tumours. Finding and eliminating these troublesome cells prior to their development is necessary for preventing cervical cancer. Premalignant cells do not always progress to become cancer. If not detected early through screening tests like Pap smears, these tumours can spread beyond the cervix to other parts of the body. 

It is necessary to stay informed about the research being done to combat this cancer, and don't forget to start treatment as soon as possible. 

What is the Cause of Cervical Cancer?

You might be wondering how dangerous is cervical cancer and what are the reasons for cervical cancer. 

  • When healthy cervix-based cells undergo genetic changes called mutations, it brings on the development of cervical cancer. The instructions that inform a cell which tasks to perform are encoded in its DNA.
  • Healthy cells develop and replicate at a specific rate before dying at a given time. The mutations instruct the cells to grow and replicate erratically while remaining alive. A mass of aberrant cells called tumours develops as they multiply. Cancer cells can infect the tissues in the immediate area and separate from a tumour to spread to other body parts.
  • Although the exact origin of cervical cancer is unknown, HPV is known to play a part. The majority of HPV-positive people do not go on to develop cancer. This indicates that in addition to genetics, your environment and lifestyle choices also have a role in determining whether you'll get cervical cancer.
  • There are over 100 distinct HPV strains. Specific types only cause cervical cancer. HPV-16 and HPV-18 are the two strains that cause cancer the most frequently.

Cervical cancer is not certain, even if you have an HPV strain known to cause it. Most HPV infections are cleared by your immune system, frequently within two years.

Some cancers can be brought on by HPV in both men and women. A few of these include:

  • Throat cancer
  • Vulvar cancer
  • Penile cancer
  • Vaginal cancer
  • Rectal cancer
  • Anal cancer

Vaginal Cancer Symptoms

Most women may want to know, “What does vaginal cancer look like?” While one may have no vagina cancer signs in the initial stages, it is important to know that the cancer in vagina may look like sores or small lumps. In some cases, these signs may show in the upper third of the vagina, which is nearest to the cervix. It is also highly recommended that women should, therefore, routinely undergo cervical smear screenings, sometimes known as Pap tests.

Pap tests are preventative. Instead of detecting cancer, it seeks to highlight any cell abnormalities that might be precursors to the disease so that treatment can begin as soon as possible.

These are the most typical vagina cancer signs:

  • Pelvic pain
  • Bleeding in between periods
  • Blood-tinged vaginal discharge
  • Longer or heavier menstrual cycle compared to the usual
  • Urination problems
  • Swollen legs
  • Bleeding following a sexual encounter
  • Discomfort or pain during sexual activity
  • Post-menopausal bleeding in women
  • A pungent discharge from the cervix

Infection is just one of the possible reasons for these symptoms. Anyone exhibiting even one of these vaginal cancer symptoms should visit a medical professional.

How to Diagnose Cervical Cancer?

Doctors can detect cervical cancer via a Pap smear test. The doctor takes a sample of your cervix's outer layer for cervical cancer diagnosis. Then, a lab will examine these cells for precancerous or cancerous alterations.

Your doctor might advise a colposcopy, a technique for looking at your cervix to detect abnormalities if any. During a colposcopy exam, tissue is gently collected using minimally invasive methods:

  1. Punch biopsy - It acquires a small amount of abnormal cervical tissue with a specialised tool. This precisely guides the diagnosis of cervical carcinoma.
  2. Endocervical curettage - In this process, the doctor uses a tiny spoon-like instrument or brush to carefully collect cells from the endocervical canal.

If punch biopsy and curettage findings suggest cervical cancer may be present, and symptoms are severe, additional tests provide confirmation:

  1. Electrical wire loop examination - During this minimally invasive test, a fine electrified wire is used to gently collect a small tissue sample. The low-voltage wire allows the removal of just what is needed for analysis while minimising discomfort.
  2. Cone biopsy - The patient exhibiting symptoms of pelvic cancer must be admitted to the hospital for this procedure. Cone biopsy enables the doctor to remove abnormal and sick cervical cells for laboratory analysis from the deeper layers of the female cervix.

If all these tests reveal the patient has cancer, more testing will be done to see if the infection has spread (metastasised). These examinations may involve:

  • Examinations of kidney and liver function.
  • Tests on the blood and urine.
  • Abdominal, rectal, colon, and bladder X-rays.

All these procedures are called Staging.

Types of Cervical Cancer

The type of cervical cancer heavily influences the prognosis and course of therapy. The most prevalent forms of cervical cancer are:

  1. Carcinoma of the Squamous Cell: This specific form of cervical cancer starts in the flat, squamous cells that line the outer portion of the cervix that extends further into the vagina. Squamous cell carcinoma is a very common type of cervical cancer.
  2. Adenocarcinoma: The column-shaped glandular cell lines surrounding the cervical canal are the starting point for this type of cervical cancer.

Both kinds of cells can occasionally have a role in cervical cancer. Other cervix cells very seldom develop cancer.

Stages of Cervical Cancer

Your doctor will determine the cervical cancer stages after a diagnosis has been made. Depending on the stage, it is possible to determine whether and how far the cancer has spread. Your doctor can identify the best course of treatment for you by identifying the stage of your cancer.

There are four stages of cervical cancer:

Stage 1: The cancer is mild in this stage. There's a chance that it affected the lymph nodes, but other body parts still remain unaffected.

Stage 2: The tumour has grown. It may have reached the lymph nodes or spread beyond the uterus and cervix, but it hasn't yet spread to other parts of your body.

Stage 3: The malignancy has gone to the pelvic or the lower vagina. It might obstruct the ureters, tubes that carry urine to the bladder from the kidneys. However, the other parts are still no affected. .

Stage 4: Cancer perhaps has spread to other organs, such as your bones, lungs, or liver, from the pelvis.

Cervical Cancer Treatment

The recommended course of action for cervical cancer depends on several variables, including the disease's stage, age, physical well-being, and if you intend to plan a pregnancy in the future. If detected early, cervical cancer can be effectively treated. There are four primary treatments:


The goal of surgery is to eradicate as much cancer as possible. Sometimes, the doctor can only remove the portion of the cervix with cancerous cells. Surgery for more acute conditions may entail eliminating the cervix and other pelvic organs.


Drugs are used in chemotherapy to eradicate cancer cells all over the body. Doctors provide this therapy in cycles. Patients undergo chemotherapy for a while. After that, the treatment will end, giving the body time to heal.

Radiation Treatment

X-ray beams with high energy are used in radiation to kill cancer cells. It may be given by a device outside the body. A metal tube inserted in the uterus or vagina can also be used to deliver it from within the body.

Targeted Therapy

A more recent medication called bevacizumab (Avastin) functions differently than chemotherapy and radiation. Inhibiting the development of fresh blood vessels prevents the tumour from spreading and surviving. Chemotherapy and this medication are frequently used simultaneously.

Risk Factors for Cervical Cancer

These are some of the factors associated with cervical cancer:

  1. Several Partners - The risk of contracting HPV increases with the number of sexual partners you have and the number of partners your partner has.
  2. Other STIs - The risk of HPV increases if you already have other Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, or HIV/AIDS.
  3. Early Sex - The risk of HPV increases with early sexual activity.
  4. Smoking - The risk of squamous cell cervical cancer increases with smoking.
  5. A Compromised Immune System - If you have HPV and your immune system is compromised by another medical issue, you are more vulnerable to cervical cancer.
  6. Using Contraceptive Pills - If you use oral contraceptive pills for a long term, it may increase your risk of developing cervical cancer.
  7. Having Multiple Children - If you have experienced three or more full-term pregnancies, you may have an increased chance of developing cervical cancer.

Preventive Measures for Cervical Cancer

To lessen your chance of developing cervical cancer:

  • Consult Your Doctor on the HPV Vaccine: Vaccinating against HPV may lower your risk of developing cervical cancer and other malignancies linked to HPV. Check with your doctor if you should receive the HPV vaccine.
  • Get Regular Pap Testing: Pap tests can identify precancerous cervix abnormalities, allowing their monitoring or treatment to stop cervical cancer. Most medical organisations advice starting regular Pap screenings at the early age of 21 and repeating it frequently.
  • Avoid Smoking: Avoid smoking as soon as possible. Discuss methods to help you stop smoking with your doctor if you already do.
  • Ensure Safe Sexual Activity: By avoiding STDs, such as reducing your number of partners or ensuring precautions, you can lower your risk of developing cervical cancer.


A cancer diagnosis is unexpected and distressing. Identification and treatment of this illness depend on the early detection of abnormal cells in the cervix. By arranging routine gynaecological tests and engaging in safe sex, you can take precautions to lower your chance of developing cervical cancer. 

Additionally, it is your responsibility to protect your finances owing to the soring treatment expenses. There is no denying that cancer treatment involves a huge monetary drain. However, factoring a cancer insurance plan, you can manage the expenses up to a certain limit. Cancer insurance from Care Health Insurance covers routine screenings that are the key to early detection. Annual check-ups, comprehensive protection at all cancer stages, chemo and radiotherapy cover, day care treatment etc. are a few attractive features of this policy.

>> Also Read: Complementary And Alternative Therapies For Cancer You Can Consider


The above information is for reference purposes only: Policy Assurance and Claims at the underwriter's discretion.

All plan features, benefits, coverage, and claims underwriting are subject to policy terms and conditions. Kindly refer to the brochure, sales prospectus, and policy documents carefully.

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