Cervical cancer

Cervical cancer is a type of cancer – an abnormal and dangerous growth of cells – which starts in the cervix. The cervix is the lower, narrow end of the uterus (womb) connecting it to the vagina.

Typically, cervical cancer develops slowly and normal cervical cells don’t simply become cancer cells – they go through several stages of being not quite normal but not yet cancerous. This is called dysplasia and is characterised by abnormal cells beginning to appear on the cervix. If these cells are not removed or destroyed, they may eventually become cancer cells. When cervical cancer develops, it can start spreading into the surrounding areas.

Although cervical cancer can develop on its own, most cases are caused by the human papillomavirus, also called HPV. This virus is passed through sexual contact and your immune system usually destroys it within two years. However, in some people, the virus evades the immune reaction and survives for many years. This kind of long-term HPV infection can contribute to the process of some cervical cells changing into cancer cells.

That’s why routine screening tests are vital – regular testing ensures that any signs of abnormal cells are caught early, before cancer develops and treatment is quite simple. There are several types of treatment but it always includes removal of the abnormal cells and rigorous follow-up tests.

There’s also a vaccine available that protects against HPV infection and it’s recommended that for it to be most effective, people should get vaccinated between the ages nine and 26.Being healthy and having a strong immune system helps your body to fight infection and to potentially recover from any treatment. A healthy, balanced vegan diet helps you achieve the best possible health, particularly if you also don’t smoke, manage your stress levels and engage in regular physical activity.