Increased Risk of Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is cancer of the cervix, the lower end of a woman’s uterus. It is preceded by a precancerous condition called CIN (cervical intraepithelial neoplasia) or cervical dysplasia which may or may not develop into cancer.

Various studies have predicted that, if left untreated, anything between 15% and 70% of CIN cases will eventually develop into invasive cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is the sixth most common cancer in women in the United States and the most common cancer in women in many economically underdeveloped countries. Only breast cancer causes more cancer-related deaths in women worldwide.

The rate of cervical cancer has been decreasing steadily over the past several decades in the United States, due in large part to widespread routine Pap smear screening. A Pap smear is used to detect the early growth of precancerous CIN cells in the cervix and is the single most important step a woman can take to prevent cervical cancer. In many developing countries where preventative health measures are not routine, the incidence and mortality from cervical cancer continue to rise.

 


Conditions that suggest Increased Risk of Cervical Cancer

Immunity  


Laboratory Test Needed  


Tumors, Malignant  



Risk factors for Increased Risk of Cervical Cancer

Environment / Toxicity  

Cigarette Smoke Damage

A 9 year prospective study of over 6,000 women found a dose-response relationship between smoking cigarettes and the risk of cervical cancer. Those who smoked 15 or more cigarettes per day were 80% more likely to develop cancer or precancerous lesions than nonsmokers. Those who smoked for 10 or more years were 80% more likely to develop cancer. Starting smoking younger than age 16 produced twice the risk of nonsmokers for developing cervical pathology. Smoking is one co-factor that makes HPV-infected cells more likely to turn cancerous.



Family History  

Close relative/close relatives with cervical cancer

Genes play a role in that a woman has a higher risk of cervical cancer if her sister or mother had it.



Immunity  

Weakened Immune System

A primary risk factor for cervical cancer is a weakened immune system. Since infection with HIV, for example, damages the immune system, being HIV-positive makes women more susceptible to HPV infection and cervical cancer.



Infections  

HPV (Human Papilloma Virus)

All cases of cervical cancer are positive for HPV. Cervical cancer is the first major solid tumor cancer to be identified as being caused by a virus.



 

STD Chlamydia

In a five year follow-up study, women whose blood had shown signs of infection with any type of chlamydia were about 2 1/2 times more likely to develop cervical cancer, compared with those who had had no signs of infection. Women with one particular subtype of chlamydia in their blood (serotype G) were 6 times more likely to develop cervical cancer, and several other subtypes were linked to risks 3 to 4 times that of uninfected women.



Personal Background  

African ethnicity

African-American women are more at risk for cervical cancer than Caucasians.



Symptoms - Cancer  

History of cervical cancer



Counter Indicators
Symptoms - Cancer  

History of cervical cancer



Symptoms - Reproductive - Female Cycle  

Total/radical/partial hysterectomy or hysterectomy with both ovaries or hysterectomy with one ovary



Symptoms - Reproductive - General  

(Very) many sexual partners

Increased risk is associated with multiple sexual partners.



 

(Slightly) early sexual activity

Increased risk is associated with early onset of sexual activity.



 

(Very) early birth of first child

Early childbearing increases the risk.



Uro-Genital  



Increased Risk of Cervical Cancer suggests the following may be present

Laboratory Test Needed  



Increased Risk of Cervical Cancer can lead to

Risks  



Recommendations for Increased Risk of Cervical Cancer

Diet  


Lab Tests/Rule-Outs  


Nutrient  

Lycopene

A study of women found that the 75% who ate the least amount of tomatoes had between 3.5 and 4.7 times the risk for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia – pre-cancerous changes of the cervix. [Int J Cancer 1991;48: pp.34-8] Other researchers have also reported evidence suggesting that high dietary lycopene may be linked to protection from cervical dysplasia. [Nutr Cancer 1998;31: pp.31-40]



Key

Weak or unproven link
Strong or generally accepted link
Proven definite or direct link
Strongly counter-indicative
Very strongly or absolutely counter-indicative
May do some good

Glossary

Cancer

Refers to the various types of malignant neoplasms that contain cells growing out of control and invading adjacent tissues, which may metastasize to distant tissues.

Cervix

The lower part of the uterus that opens into the vagina.

Cervical Dysplasia

Abnormal cells on the surface of the cervix, classified as either mild (70% of cases fall into this category; the cells regress on their own), moderate, or severe, or as class 1, 2 or 3. While dysplasia itself does not cause health problems, it is considered to be a precancerous condition. Left untreated, dysplasia sometimes progresses to an early form of cancer known as cervical carcinoma in situ, and eventually to invasive cervical cancer.

Pap Test

Papanicolaou test. Microscopic examination of cells collected from the vagina and cervix to test for uterine cancer or dysplasia.

Precancerous Lesion

Abnormal tissue that is not yet malignant.

Immune System

A complex that protects the body from disease organisms and other foreign bodies. The system includes the humoral immune response and the cell-mediated response. The immune system also protects the body from invasion by making local barriers and inflammation.

HIV

Abbreviation for human immunodeficiency virus, a retrovirus associated with onset of advanced immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Virus

Any of a vast group of minute structures composed of a protein coat and a core of DNA and/or RNA that reproduces in the cells of the infected host. Capable of infecting all animals and plants, causing devastating disease in immunocompromised individuals. Viruses are not affected by antibiotics, and are completely dependent upon the cells of the infected host for the ability to reproduce.

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