Regarding the risk factors for cervical cancer, this is very important: Smoking is not only associated with a higher frequency of cervical cancer, it is associated with many types of cancer. All tissues that come into contact with cigarette smoke will be exposed to chemicals that can generate cancer over time; skin cancer, oral cancer, esophageal cancer, stomach cancer, lung cancer, cervical cancer, breast cancer and so on, the list can be very long, as long as we want to imagine it, and of course with other respiratory diseases such as the COVID that we are experiencing in the last almost 2 years, so if you can avoid smoking, it would be better. Other important risk factors are sexual infections, sexually transmitted infections that occur throughout our lives can
If we have a predisposition, it will degenerate into cervical cancer. With respect to these sexual or sexually transmitted infections, all are considered: Those generated by viruses, bacteria, parasites and even fungi, however, the most frequent and very important is the viral cause, that is, infections caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). This virus is very common, so that almost 100% of the population can have contact with this virus once we start our sexual life. Fortunately, not all cases of human papillomavirus infections will end in cervical cancer, fortunately, but of the cases that are identified and studied with cervical cancer, 96% are associated with HPV or human papillomavirus.
This means that if we try to avoid infection or fight it in time, we could reduce the frequency of this cervical cancer. On the slide it says multiple pregnancies. What does this mean? It means that the greater the number of pregnancies, the greater the possibility of damage to the cervix, triggering cervical cancer over time. This is becoming less and less common because women are having fewer and fewer children, that is, 30 or more years ago. 40 years because our grandmothers, for example, had many children, they had 3, 4 or more children, this was associated with a greater number of cases of cervical cancer.
Currently, women usually have 1 or 2, that is, they have fewer and fewer children and this reduces the risk of having cervical cancer. Other factors that we discuss here are nutritional deficiencies, when we do not eat well, of course our defenses are not maintained at 100% and these are also responsible for repairing the damage that our tissues suffer as we are exposed to sexual infections, smoke. cigarette and it is not a direct exposure but the damage caused internally by tobacco chemicals.
Early onset of sexual life means that there is an age where our tissues are not completely mature, the cervix effectively finishes maturing in adulthood, that is, after 18 years of age, starting sexual life before this age exposes us to changes. severe symptoms in the cervix and a greater possibility of suffering from cervical cancer, so it is advisable not to start a sexual life during adolescence, that is, not before starting our adult life and finally having multiple sexual partners. Having many sexual partners exposes us to a greater risk of suffering from human papillomavirus infections and therefore a greater possibility of suffering from cervical cancer. I want to emphasize that although these risk factors have been identified, it does not mean that we need to have all or some of them to be exposed to the possibility of suffering from cervical cancer, in reality the only condition is having started a sexual life. See, these are the tools we have to identify it in time and prevent cervical cancer, such as the use of the human papillomavirus vaccine. We currently have a couple of these vaccines available in Mexico that are very effective in preventing cervical infection. human papillomavirus and reduce the risk of suffering from cervical cancer later in life.
The use of condoms limits contact with this virus, so we reduce human papillomavirus infection and the association with cervical cancer, a very important factor that seems simple is not smoking, that would be a point to emphasize. If someone smokes and wants to reduce the risk of suffering from cervical cancer, it would be better to stop doing so. We can make a diagnosis very early using these three tools: 1. A cervical-vaginal cytology pap smear is the simplest method that can be used. It is recommended that This procedure begins to be performed once we have an active sexual life and at least once a year, the pap smear can be complemented with a colposcopy, this study that is performed in the office and helps the Pap smear a lot because we do a review with a microscope with direct vision of the cervix to detect alterations that indicate a possible indication of cervical cancer. There is a molecular test that has been used for many years in the world and in Mexico as well, which are molecular tests to detect human papillomavirus, and there are two tests to date, one of them is hybrid capture, it is available in many laboratories and the other is a PCR for human papillomavirus, they have heard in the last 18 months of the PCR test, a test that is applied to detect many types of the virus, HPV is no exception, with these three tests we could be practically 100% certain of detecting a case that has a high risk of developing into cervical cancer. If we find a premalignant or precursor lesion, it does not automatically turn into cancer; it has been studied that three and a half years, up to five years, and in other countries in the world up to seven years, pass for that lesion to become an invasive cancer, so which gives us enough time to provide treatment, perform follow-up studies, and prevent a preventable problem from turning into an advanced disease.