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Cervical Cancer Banner

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Cervical Cancer

The cervix is the “neck” or the lower thin tubular part of the uterus, part of the female reproductive system. Cervical cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow and replicate in cervical tissue.


Risk Factors and Symptoms

The most common risk factors for cervical cancer are:
  • HPV (human papillomavirus) – 99% of cervical cancer patients have HPV
  • age – women age 40+ are more likely to contract cervical cancer
  • smoking – female smokers are twice as likely to develop cervical cancer as non-smokers
  • long-term use of birth control pills
  • obesity
  • suppressed immune system – i.e. patients who have had organ transplant or HIV/AIDS
By the time cervical cancer presents with any symptoms it is typically advanced and has spread to other organs. Symptoms of cervical cancer can include:
  • unusual vaginal discharge
  • non-menstrual bleeding
  • pain after sex, douching or pelvic exam

Diagnostic Tests

To detect and diagnose cervical cancer your gynecologist will perform a pelvic exam, a pap smear and possibly a colposcopy.
  • pap smear- during a pap smear you will lie on an exam table and put your heels into stirrups so that your knees are bent. Your gynecologist will gently insert an instrument called a speculum into your vagina to better view your cervix and then use a small brush or flat tongue depressor-like instrument to collect cells from the cervix to determine if HPV infection is present. The cells will then be sent to the lab and reviewed for abnormal cell growth.
  • colposcopy – during this procedure your doctor uses a colposcope (a small lighted magnifying instrument) to check the cervix for abnormal growth.

Treatment Options

There are several treatment options if you are diagnosed with cervical cancer. Your gynecologist and oncologist will work together to develop a prescribed treatment plan based on several factors including the size of the tumor, stage of the cancer, your age, and your future desire to have biological children. Treatment options may include:
  • surgery – the most commonly recommended surgical treatment for cervical cancer is hysterectomy
  • radiation therapy – the use of high-energy rays to damage cancer cells and prevent their further growth
  • chemotherapy – an oral or intravenously-given drug that helps destroy cancer cells
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