1. What are the pathologies of the uterine cervix?
  2. Risk factors of cervical cancer
  3. Symptoms and diagnosis

What are the pathologies of the uterine cervix?

The uterine cervix is the site for several infective pathologies that can be both bacterial like those caused by Candida albicans, Neisserie gonorrhoeae, Chlamydia and Mycoplasma, or viral like those caused by Herpes simplex, Cytomegalovirus and Papilloma virus. Papilloma virus is one of the risk factors for carcinoma of the uterine cervix (cervical cancer).

 Risk factors of cervical cancer

Cervical cancer is caused by an uncontrolled multiplication of cells of the squamocolumnar junction in malignant cells. Carcinoma of the uterine cervix is the first cause of death for gynaecological neoplasia. The chances of recovery are greater if the disease is diagnosed timely and therefore is in its early stages.

Common risk factors are:

  • Infection from Human Papilloma Virus that is the most important factor associated to cervical cancer. There are more than 100 genotypes of the virus, 40 of which proliferate in the genital tract.
  • An early beginning of sexual activity and sexual promiscuity that increase the risk of contracting HPV or other sexually transmitted diseases:
    • Infections of the cervix like chlamydia or herpes simplex
    • The use of oral contraceptives
    • The weakening of the immune system (immune depressive syndromes)

Symptoms and diagnosis

Initially, cervical cancer causes no symptoms and it is therefore extremely important to undergo all gynaecological examinations and routine examinations such as Pap test that allow to diagnose the disease in its early stages. If symptoms occur, they are similar to those of other diseases of the reproductive system like:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding outside the menstrual cycle
  • Unusual vaginal discharge of a weird colour or texture
  • Pelvic pain
  • Pain or bleeding during sexual intercourse.

The diagnosis of cervical cancer can be obtained through:

  • Gynaecological examination with in depth pelvic exam to check the neck of the uterus;
  • Pap test (smear test), an exam that is regularly carried out by collecting cells from the uterine cervix;
  • HPV DNA test that allows to identify the viral strain responsible of the HPV infection;
  • Colposcopy with biopsy that allows visualising the cervix and the vagina in an enlarged way to highlight anomalies through the use of specific colorants;
  • Magnetic resonance of the pelvis.

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