Cervical Cancer (cont.)
In this Article
- Cervical cancer facts*
- What is the cervix?
- What is cancer?
- What are the risk factors and causes of cervical cancer?
- What are the symptoms of cervical cancer?
- How is cervical cancer diagnosed?
- How is staging of cervical cancer determined?
- What is the treatment for cervical cancer?
- What are methods of treatment for cervical cancer?
- How do I go about getting a second opinion?
- What follow-up care is involved after cervical cancer treatment?
- What support, research, and clinical trials information is available for cervical cancer patients?
- Find a local Oncologist in your town
What are the risk factors and causes of cervical cancer?
When you get a diagnosis of cervical cancer, it's natural to wonder what may have caused the disease. Doctors usually can't explain why one woman develops cervical cancer and another doesn't.
However, we do know that a woman with certain risk factors may be more likely than other women to develop cervical cancer. A risk factor is something that may increase the chance of developing a disease.
Studies have found that infection with the virus called HPV is the cause of almost all cervical cancers. More than half of women by the age of 50 have been exposed to HPV, but most HPV infections clear up on their own. An HPV infection with a high risk type of HPV that doesn't go away can cause cervical cancer in some women.
Other risk factors, such as smoking, can act to increase the risk of cervical cancer among women infected with HPV even more.
A woman's risk of cervical cancer can be reduced by getting regular cervical cancer screening tests. If abnormal cervical cell changes are found early, cancer can be prevented by removing or killing the changed cells before they become cancer cells.
Another way a woman can reduce her risk of cervical cancer is by getting an HPV vaccine before becoming sexually active (between the ages of 9 and 26). Even women who get an HPV vaccine need regular cervical cancer screening tests. Vaccines reduce a person's risk of getting an infection, but do not prevent such infections in every vaccinated person.
What are the symptoms of cervical cancer?
Early cervical cancers usually don't cause symptoms. When the cancer grows larger, women may notice abnormal vaginal bleeding:
- Bleeding that occurs between regular menstrual periods
- Bleeding after sexual intercourse, douching, or a pelvic exam
- Menstrual periods that last longer and are heavier than before
- Bleeding after going through menopause
Women may also notice...
- Increased vaginal discharge
- Pelvic pain
- Pain during sex
Cervical cancer, infections, or other health problems may cause these symptoms. A woman with any of these symptoms should tell her doctor so that problems can be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.
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