Cervical cancer is a cancer of the cervical cells. Regular gynecological examinations, Pap smears, and safe sex are the most important steps you can take to prevent cervical cancer. The main treatments for cervical cancer are surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.
What is cervical cancer?
Cervical cancer, or cervical cancer, begins on the surface of the cervix. This happens when cells in the cervix begin to change into precancerous cells. Not all precancerous cells turn into cancer, but finding and treating these problematic cells before they change is critical to preventing cervical cancer.
Types of cervical cancer
There are two main types of cervical cancer: squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. 80-90% of cervical cancers are squamous cell carcinomas and 10-20% are adenocarcinomas.
What is the cervix?
The cervix is the lowest part of the uterus (where the baby grows during pregnancy). It looks a little like a donut and connects your uterus to the opening of your vagina. It is covered with a tissue composed of cells. These healthy cells grow and become pre-cancerous cells.
How common is cervical cancer?
About 14,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year. Cervical cancer is most often diagnosed in people between the ages of 35 and 44. The average age at diagnosis is 50. About 4,000 people die from cervical cancer each year. This rate is decreasing due to HPV vaccination and screening.
Symptoms and causes
What are the most common symptoms of cervical cancer?
Early stages of cervical cancer are often asymptomatic and difficult to detect. It can take several years for the first symptoms of cervical cancer to appear. The best way to prevent cervical cancer is to detect abnormal cells during cervical cancer screening.
Cervical cancer stage 1 may include the following symptoms:
Watery or bloody discharge from the vagina may be heavy and foul-smelling.
Vaginal bleeding after intercourse, between periods or after menopause.
Menstruation is heavier and lasts longer than usual.
If the cancer has spread to nearby tissues and organs, the following symptoms may appear.
Urination is difficult and painful, sometimes there is blood in the urine.
Rectal pain and bleeding during diarrhea and stool.
Fatigue, weight loss, loss of appetite.
General feeling of illness.
Back pain or leg swelling.
If you have abnormal bleeding, vaginal discharge, or other unexplained symptoms, you should have a full gynecological exam, including a Pap test.
What causes cervical cancer?
Most cervical cancers are caused by the sexually transmitted virus HPV. HPV is spread sexually (rectally, orally, and vaginally) and can cause cancer. Most people will get HPV at some point in their lives and don’t realize it because their bodies fight the infection. However, if your body doesn’t fight off the infection, cervical cells can turn into cancer cells.