Cervical Cancer FAQs
Reviewed by John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP on January 16, 2019
Test your Knowledge!
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common cause of cervical cancer. True or false?
- What are risk factors for developing cervical cancer?
- What are early signs of cervical cancer?
- How long does it take cervical cancer to spread?
- In general, who should be screened for cervical cancer?
- How is cervical cancer diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for cervical cancer?
- What is the life expectancy after being diagnosed with cervical cancer?
- Can cervical cancer be cured?
- How cervical cancer be prevented?
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Q:Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common cause of cervical cancer. True or false?
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the U.S. and it is found in about 99% of cervical cancers. Of the more than 100 different types of HPV, two types of the virus - HPV-16 and HPV-18 - are the main causes of cervical cancer.
It is important to note that most women infected with HPV do not develop cervical cancer and most HPV infections will eventually go away on their own.
Q:What are risk factors for developing cervical cancer?
A:Aside from human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, the main risk factor for cervical cancer, other risk factors include:
Q:What are early signs of cervical cancer?
A:In the early stages, cervical cancer usually does not cause symptoms. This is why Pap and HPV testing is important to detect possible cancerous cells early.
Once cervical cancer is more advanced, symptoms may include:
Q:How long does it take cervical cancer to spread?
A:It takes many years for cervical cancer to develop and spread.
In the early stages cell changes that occur before cancer is detected are called dysplasia or cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN).
Many women are diagnosed with precancerous cell changes (dysplasia) in their 20s and 30s but the average age of diagnosis of cervical cancer is age 49, which indicates the slow progression of the disease.
Q:In general, who should be screened for cervical cancer?
A:Women age 21-29: In the U.S., a Pap smear for cervical cancer screening is recommended every 3 years
Q:How is cervical cancer diagnosed?
A:A number of tests may be used to diagnose cervical cancer.
Q:What is the treatment for cervical cancer?
A:Treatment for cervical cancer depends on the stage of the cancer and surgery is the main treatment.
Types of surgery to treat cervical cancer include:
Q:What is the life expectancy after being diagnosed with cervical cancer?
A:The life expectancy for women with cervical cancer depends on the stage of the cancer.
Survival rates are typically higher for women in the earlier stages. Other factors that can impact the prognosis include the woman's age, overall health, and her response to treatment. Survival is often expressed as a “5-year survival rate” which is the percentage of people who live at least 5 years after being diagnosed.
Q:Can cervical cancer be cured?
A:The earlier the stage of the cervical cancer, the more options there are for a possible cure.
Q:How cervical cancer be prevented?
A:Since most cases of cervical cancer are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, the HPV vaccine is recommended to protect against the types of HPV that can cause cervical cancer.
The HPV vaccine is recommended for both girls and boys aged 11 to 12 years, but it can be administered as early as age 9, and up until a person is 26 years old. Even women who have been vaccinated against HPV should still have regular Pap tests to screen for cervical cancer.
Other lifestyle changes that may help reduce the risk of developing cervical cancer include:
Source quiz on MedicineNet