10 Misconceptions About Cervical Cancer

10 Misconceptions About Cervical Cancer
10 Misconceptions About Cervical Cancer

While cervical cancer ranks 4th among the most common cancers in the world, it rises to the 45nd rank in women under the age of 2. Worldwide, 604 thousand women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year, and about half of these patients die. However, cervical cancer, one of the most common cancers in the world, can actually be prevented with regular screening!

While cervical cancer ranks 4th among the most common cancers in the world, it rises to the 45nd rank in women under the age of 2. Worldwide, 604 thousand women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year, and about half of these patients die. However, cervical cancer, one of the most common cancers in the world, can actually be prevented with regular screening!

Acıbadem Altunizade Hospital Gynecology and Obstetrics Specialist and Gynecological Oncology Surgery Specialist; Acıbadem University Faculty of Medicine, Head of Gynecological Oncology Surgery Department Prof. Dr. Serkan Erkanlı pointed out that cervical cancer can be prevented with three regular methods and said, “The most important risk factor for cervical cancer is oncogenic human papilloma viruses and these viruses are held responsible for 99 percent of the disease. HPV vaccines, which prevent oncogenic HPV infection, are the most effective protection method against this type of cancer. Thanks to vaccines, the risk of developing cervical cancer can be prevented by 70-90%. Other preventive methods are screening programs in which smear and HPV-based tests are applied. Thanks to these screening tests, cervical cancer can be prevented at an early stage, even before it develops. It is important to apply the right treatment as soon as possible when the diagnosis of cervical cancer is made.

However, some erroneous information that is thought to be true about cervical cancer in the society can delay early diagnosis and treatment. Gynecology and Obstetrics Specialist and Gynecological Oncology Surgery Specialist Prof. Dr. Serkan Erkanli told about 10 wrong information about cervical cancer that is believed to be true in the society; made important suggestions and warnings!

Cervical cancer does not occur at a young age: FALSE!

Actually: Cervical cancer is usually seen in women aged 35-45 years. However, this type of cancer can be seen in the advanced age group, as well as in women younger than 35 years of age. In fact, approximately 35 thousand women under the age of 60 are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year in the world. Women younger than 21 have a very low risk of developing cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer progresses insidiously, does not show any symptoms: FALSE!

Actually: Cervical cancer precursor lesions usually do not give any symptoms. For this reason, it is vital that the screening program be performed on women who have no complaints. According to the stage of cervical cancer; It can give symptoms in the form of abnormal vaginal bleeding and bleeding after sexual intercourse. In the following periods; irregular breakthrough bleeding, pain in the groin and abdomen, if the cancer has progressed further; It can manifest itself with signals such as pain in the kidneys or legs and swelling in the legs.

Cervical cancer cannot be detected early: FALSE!

Actually: Cervical cancer can be detected early, and even caught while it is still in the stage of precancerous lesions. It takes about 15-20 years for the precancerous lesions to transform into cervical cancer. In women with a weakened immune system, this period may decrease to 5-10 years. This time interval allows precancerous lesions to be detected before they turn into cancer with smear and HPV-based tests.

Cervical cancer is not seen in women with a single sexual partner! FALSE!

Actually: HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) is mostly transmitted sexually. HPV from a relationship with a single partner causes abnormalities in cells, and if not detected early, it can lead to cancer.

Since I have no complaints, I do not need to have a smear test: FALSE!

Actually: Precancerous lesions of the cervix do not cause any complaints. Symptoms appear only when cancer develops. For this reason, it is necessary to start the smear test, which is cervical cancer screening, at the age of 21 without any real complaints, and HPV-based tests at the age of 25-30.

To prevent cervical cancer, I should have a smear test frequently: FALSE!

Actually: The smear test, which detects cellular changes that may turn into cervical cancer, starts at the age of 21 and continues every 65 years until the age of 3. Gynecology and Obstetrics Specialist and Gynecological Oncology Surgery Specialist Prof. Dr. Serkan Erkanli pointed out that more successful results were obtained in the screenings made with HPV-based tests, “A single smear test can detect cancer precursor lesions at a rate of 55 percent, while a single HPV test can detect 95 percent of these lesions. Therefore, the HPV test is added to the smear test after the age of 30. When HPV-based tests are normal, it is recommended that the next test be done every 5 years. In risky situations or if the results are abnormal, the durations of both tests can be shortened. If there is no risky picture, having the smear test frequently does not increase the chance of early diagnosis of cervical cancer, and may lead to anxiety and unnecessary biopsy due to the possibility of being mistaken.

After having an HPV infection, the vaccine does not help: FALSE!

Actually: Gynecology and Obstetrics Specialist and Gynecological Oncology Surgery Specialist Prof. Dr. Serkan Erkanlı stated that the effects of HPV vaccines are stronger in the period before encountering HPV, but they also provide benefits after experiencing this infection. A patient infected with one of these can be protected against other types included in the vaccine, thanks to HPV vaccines. In addition, the immunity provided by the vaccines against this virus shows a stronger effect than the immunity developed by the body against the infection.

I do not need to have a smear test after vaccination: FALSE!

Actually: Although HPV vaccines are highly protective against cervical cancer, they cannot prevent cervical cancer 100 percent. Therefore, it is vital that routine cervical cancer screenings are not neglected after vaccination.

The presence of abnormal cells in the smear test means cervical cancer: FALSE!

Actually: Gynecology and Obstetrics Specialist and Gynecological Oncology Surgery Specialist Prof. Dr. Serkan Erkanlı stated that if the smear test result is abnormal, the patients should be evaluated closely and said, “The presence of abnormal cells indicates that the probability of a precancerous lesion increases. However, this picture does not mean that the patient has cervical cancer. What is more important here is that the rate of precancerous cell disorders has increased compared to the normal smear test result. Depending on the degree of cellular abnormality in these patients, it may be necessary to perform a biopsy from the cervix. In this way, precancerous lesions can be detected and treated at an early stage, thus preventing cervical cancer.”

My HPV test is positive, I will get cervical cancer: FALSE!

Actually: More than 80 percent of women are infected with HPV at least once in their lifetime. However, the body's immune system clears HPV infection in more than 2 percent of patients within 3-90 years. In 10% of patients, HPV infection becomes permanent. "This is very important for the close follow-up of this group of patients, early diagnosis and treatment of precancerous lesions," warned Prof. Dr. Serkan Erkanli says, "Since every HPV does not cause cancer, when the test is positive, a biopsy or close follow-up of the patient may be required depending on which HPV is infected and the result of the smear test."

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