Every year in Europe, 50,000 women develop and 25,000 women die from cervical cancer. Effective prevention programmes could prevent almost every case.
What is cervical cancer?
Cervical cancer can develop when cells of the cervix are infected with HPV (Human Papilloma Virus). HPV can cause the cervical cells to become abnormal and start to grow in an uncontrolled fashion. At first, these abnormal changes are mild and most just disappear on their own without treatment. Sometimes, the abnormal cells do not disappear and these can progress to cervical cancer if they are not found and removed. Abnormal cervical cells are very easy to remove and thereby prevent cervical cancer occurring. However, these abnormal cells have no obvious signs or symptoms and the only way they can be found is by cervical cancer screening. Effective organised cervical cancer screening can prevent 8 of every 10 cases of cervical cancer.
What are the risk factors?
With regard to cervical cancer, HPV (the human papilloma virus) is the main risk factor and cervical cancer will not develop in women who do not have HPV. However, in women who do have HPV, several other factors can increase the risk of cervical cancer developing. These include:
- cigarette smoking
- anything that weakens the immune system, such as HIV infection or chemotherapy
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms may include:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding or a significant unexplained change in your menstrual cycle.
- Bleeding when something comes in contact with the cervix, such as during sexual intercourse or insertion of a diaphragm.
- Pain during sexual intercourse.
- Abnormal vaginal discharge containing mucus that may be tinged with blood
The Pap Test
The Pap test is a routine screening test used to identify abnormal cell changes of the cervix and to screen for cervical cancer. A Pap test can save lives. It can find the earliest signs of disease. If caught early, the chance of curing cervical cancer is very high. Pap tests also can find infections and abnormal cervical cells that can turn into cancer cells. Treatment can prevent most cases of cervical cancer from developing.
Given the reasons above, I invite you to sign the STOP cervical Cancer Petition. This is a call upon the European Parliament, the European Commission and all National Governments of Europe to implement the effective organised cervical cancer prevention programmes that will provide the optimal protection against cervical cancer for all the women of Europe.
This petition is run by the European Cervical Cancer Association with the support of the International Union Against Cancer.