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HPV – Cervical Cancer in Women Essay

HPV – Cervical Cancer in Women Essay

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is considered to be a common viral infection of the reproductive tract. Most of the women, engaged into sexual relations, have the risk of being infected with this virus at some moment of time or even repeatedly infected. “Worldwide, cervical cancer is the fourth most frequent cancer in women with an estimated 530 000 new cases in 2012 representing 7.5% of all female cancer deaths. Of the estimated more than 270 000 deaths from cervical cancer every year, more than 85% of these occur in less developed regions.” (American Cancer Society, 2014).  Usually the peak of potential time for acquiring of this infection is shortly after becoming sexually active. HPV is sexually transmitted, and it is important to note that it happens only in case of penetrative sex, skin-to-skin contact is already enough for transmission. There are a lot of different types of HPV and luckily most of them are not problematic for humans. “HPV infections usually clear up without any intervention within a few months after acquisition, and about 90% clear within 2 years. A small proportion of infections with certain types of HPV can persist and progress to cancer.” (Human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer, 2018). The most common type of HPV-related disease is cervical cancer, as most of the cases of cervical cancer are considered attributable to HPV infection. It was already mentioned that there are types of HPV, which are not responsible for cancer, usually these are types 6 and 11 and they can cause genital warts and respiratory papillomatosis – when tumors grow in all air passages, starting from the nose and into the lungs.HPV – Cervical Cancer in Women Essay

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The most dangerous aspect about HPV infections is that most of them do not cause any symptoms, thus they resolve spontaneously. In cases of persistent infection, mostly by types 16 and 18, it could lead to precancerous lesions. If an individual is not treated, then these lesions are luckily to progress to cervical cancer. The process usually lasts during a relatively long period of many years. The first symptoms of cervical cancer start to appear only as soon as the cancer reaches the advances stage. These symptoms include:

  • irregular, intermenstrual bleeding after sexual intercourse
  • leg, back and pelvic pain
  • weight loss, fatigue, lack of appetite
  • single swollen leg
  • vaginal discomfort

The more advanced stages bring more serious symptoms. Most of the HPV infections tend to clear up on their own, even most of the pre-cancerous lesions could resolve spontaneously, but still there is a risk for all females, that HPV infection could pass to the chronic stage and pre-cancerous lesions could progress into cervical cancer. For the women with normally functioning immune systems it might take up to 20 years for cervical cancer to develop. In case the immune system is weakened, then it might take only 10 years, as well as in cases with untreated HIV infections. The major risk factors for HPV persistence and consequent development of cervical cancer include early sexual intercourse, tobacco use, multiple sexual partners, immune system suppression.

In order to manage the problem in developed countries were a lot of programs developed, which provide the opportunities for women to get screened with the aim to identify pre-cancerous lesions with following treatment of them. Such approach of screening and early treatment helps to prevent at least 80% of cervical cancers there. In developing countries the lack of access to screening leads to further development of symptoms, as they were not identified at early stages. The mortality rates from cervical cancer are rather high globally, which means that it is important to conduct effective screening and introduce treatment programs in all countries of the world.

Cervical cancer screening is the process of testing for pre-cancer and cancer among women, who actually experience no concrete symptoms and feel themselves healthy. This screening helps to detect pre-cancerous lesions and then there are high chances for treating them and avoiding of cancer. Screening could also help to detect cancer at early stages and again timely treatment could lead to rather positive results. “Because pre-cancerous lesions take many years to develop, screening is recommended for every woman from aged 30 to 49 at least once in a lifetime and ideally more frequently. Screening is only effective on cervical cancer mortality, if a high proportion of women participate.” (Human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer, 2018).HPV – Cervical Cancer in Women Essay

Nowadays there are three types of screening tests available: conventional Pap test along with liquid-based cytology, visual inspection with the help of Acetic Acid and HPV testing for high –risk HPV types. Prevention is certainly the best option for avoiding of cervical cancer development. HPV vaccination could currently be done with 2 vaccines, which could protect from HPV 16 and 18, which are responsible for 70% of cervical cancer cases. The vaccines could also have cross-protection functions against other types of HPV, which could also lead to cervical cancer. It is important to remember that HPV vaccination is not a replacement for cancer screening.

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According to World Health Organization (WHO) cervical cancer could be prevented and controlled only with the help of comprehensive approach. “The recommended set of actions includes interventions across the life course. It should be multidisciplinary, including components from community education, social mobilization, vaccination, screening, treatment and palliative care.” (Human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer, 2018). Also there is a list of recommended preventive interventions, including:HPV – Cervical Cancer in Women Essay

  • education about healthy sexual practices, including motivation for delayed start of sexual activity
  • warning about tobacco use especially starting this during adolescence
  • promotion of condoms as the protection means for those young individuals, who are already engaged into sexual activities.
  • Sexually active women should be screened for abnormal cervical cells and pre-cancerous lesions, starting from 30 years of age.

Overall, human papillomavirus is rather dangerous as it does not have serious symptoms and some types of it could lead to cervical cancer. This is the reason why there is a need to organize a whole range of preventive measures.

References:

American Cancer Society. (2014). Cancer Facts & Figures 2014. Atlanta: American Cancer Society

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). Human papillomavirus-associated cancers—United States, 2004-2008. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

Chaturvedi A.K., Engels E.A., Pfeiffer R.M., et al. (2011). Human papillomavirus and rising oropharyngeal cancer incidence in the United States. Journal of Clinical Oncology

Human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer. (2018). WHO

Urban D, Corry J, Rischin D. (2014). What is the best treatment for patients with human papillomavirus-positive and -negative oropharyngeal cancer? Cancer; 120(10)HPV – Cervical Cancer in Women Essay

 

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