1. The cervix is the lower portion of the uterus and includes the opening the uterus, called the os.
2. Cervical cancer is the third most common type of cancer in women, accounting for about 4% of all cancers found in women.
3. Slow abnormal changes of the cervical cells, called dysplasia, can lead to cancer.
4. Usually it takes several years to develop cancer, but sometimes they changes can evolve into cancer in less than a year.
5. For some women, these pre-cancerous changes may go away without any treatment.
6. There are two main types of cervical cancers: squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma.
7. About 85%-90% of cervical cancers are squamous cells carcinoma.
8. It can be curable when detected early with a Pap smear. This is why Pap smears are recommended for all women, beginning at age 18 or at the age when a woman first becomes sexually active.
1. HPV (human papilloma virus) is the major cause of cervical cancer and dysplasia.
2. High-risk factors:
Multiple sexual partners
Early onset of sexual activity (less than 18 years of age)
Early childbearing (less than 16 years)
Sexually transmitted diseases
HPV infection, HIV infection
Weakened immune system
There are often no symptoms other than an abnormal Pap smear.
1. In very late stages, the symptoms include:
Abnormal vaginal bleeding or spotting between periods
Persistent vaginal discharge that is pale, watery, pink, brown or blood-streaked
2. Bleeding after intercourse
Pain in the pelvic area
3. Advanced stages can result in:
Appetite and weight loss
Fatigue, back pain and/or leg pain
Pain in the abdomen, leakage of urine and feces through the vagina
1. Pap smear
1. Cervical conization - removing the part of the cervix containing the cancer
3. Radiation therapy