For over 10 years, the European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week promotes early detection and HPV (Human Papillomavirus, the main cause of this disease) vaccines. Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. Health organizations and medical communities encourage women to prioritize the prevention of this common affection every third week of January.
Did you know Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women, causing 570,000 new cases and 310,000 deaths yearly?
The history of cervical cancer starts with the Greek physician, Soranus of Ephesus, who in the 2nd-3rd century AD, pioneered gynaecologic techniques and accurately described uterine cancer. However, it began to be recognized when Carl Ruge and Johann Veit described cervical cancer as a separate disease in the 1870s.
Hans Hinselmann, a German gynecologist, developed colposcopy in 1925, the first method for the early detection of cervical cancer. In 1928 Dr George N. Papanicolaou introduced cytology in conjunction with colposcopy, reducing significantly cervical cancer mortality by observing early carcinoma development.
In the 1970s, Harald zur Hausen, a German virologist, discovered that some HPV strains cause cervical cell changes, leading to cancer. His research guided the HPV vaccine, reducing cervical cancer significantly.
Fortunately, most infections go away on their own. However, experts insist that performing cytology can prevent it. Doing them regularly can help avoid up to 80% of cancer cases. The World Health Organization (WHO) aims to eradicate it by 2030 with the 90-70-90 goals:
- 90% of girls: HPV vaccine before turning 15
- 70% of women: screening before age 35 and again before age 45
- 90% of women: 90% treatment of women with precancerous lesions and invasive cancer
Tips for Cervical Cancer Prevention
- Regular checkups: Pap tests are essential to detect precancerous changes in cervical cells.
- Vaccine against HPV: This vaccine can prevent most cases of cervical cancer when given before a person is exposed to the virus.
- Practice safe sex: Using condoms can reduce the risk of contracting HPV.
- Don’t smoke: Smoking increases the risk of cervical cancer.