Cervical cancer may occur in young women, but its peak incidence is in the late Forties. It is more common in women who have had many pregnancies, in those who have had regular sexual intercourse from an early age and in those who have had many sexual partners. It is also more common in those with a lower socio-economic status.
The herpes virus and the human papilloma virus which causes genital warts are thought to be causes of cancer of the cervix.
Most people still associate cancer with pain but this is usually a late symptom. The earliest symptoms of cancer of the cervix are bleeding and discharge. The bleeding may occur between the periods and may follow intercourse. The discharge is initially clear but later becomes blood-stained and offensive.
But there is a screening test for cancer of the cervix and, if every woman at risk availed herself of it, we could prevent or cure every such case of cancer.
In 1933, Dr George Papanicolaou showed that a simple test of placing a scraping from the cervix on a slide and examining it under the microscope could detect cancer in its earliest stage.
This test has been widely used since the late Fifties but, unfortunately, many women fail to take advantage of it.



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