Cervical Cancer FAQs

What causes cervical cancer?

Long-lasting infection with certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) is the main cause of cervical cancer. At least half of sexually active people will have HPV at some point in their lives, but few women will get cervical cancer.

Can you get cervical cancer if you are not sexually active?

Women who have never been sexually active rarely develop cervical cancer. Becoming sexually active at a young age however can increase the risk for cervical cancer.

Can I lower my risk for getting cervical cancer?

The HPV vaccine protects against the different varieties of HPV that most often cause cervical cancer.

Should I consider preventive surgeries if I have risk factors for cervical cancer?

There is no recommended surgical procedure to prevent cervical cancer. An important step women can take is by getting routine Pap smears and HPV tests.

What are the most common surgical procedures for cervical cancer?

The following are the most common surgical procedures for treating cervical cancer:

  • Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP): This procedure is used to treat squamous cell carcinoma in situ. This means there are several abnormal cells found on the surface of the cervix.
  • Cone biopsy (also referred to as a conization): This surgery is used to treat certain early-stage cervical cancers who want to preserve their ability to become pregnant. If cancer cells are detected in the cervical tissue that has been removed, additional treatment may be necessary.

Cervical Cancer Treatments

  • Radical Hysterectomy: A radical hysterectomy removes the uterus, cervix, upper vagina and tissues surrounding the cervix. The ovaries and fallopian tubes will be left intact but may be removed if necessary.
  • Pelvic exenteration: This rare form of surgery removes the pelvic structures (uterus, vagina, lower colon, rectum or bladder) and may be performed to treat recurrent cervical cancer that has spread to those organs after radiation therapy.
  • Radiation and Chemotherapy

Is Cervical Cancer painful?

Women who have or had cervical cancer describe the pain between the abdomen and naval that include sharp pains, a dull ache, and sometimes irregular vaginal bleeding.

What are the treatment options for cervical cancer?

Treatment options for cervical cancer may include a hysterectomy, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. The type of treatment chosen depends on the cancer stage. You may receive more than one type of treatment.

Is there a screening test for cervical cancer?

Even if you don’t have cervical cancer symptoms, it is important to receive a yearly screening test. The Pap test checks for abnormal cell changes of the cervix. This allows for early treatment, so the abnormal cells do not become cancer. An HPV test is also available, and is used along with the Pap test to screen for cervical cancer in some women and as a follow-up test when a woman has an abnormal Pap test result.

How long does it take for cervical cancer to develop?

Cervical cancer begins when normal cells in the lower portion of the uterus change or mutate into pre-cancerous cells. When pre-cancerous cells grow out of control, they may spread to nearby tissue, as well as other parts of the body. If left untreated, they may grow into a mass or tumor. The process of pre-cancerous cells developing into cancer often takes years.

Who is at risk of cervical cancer?

The highest risk factor for getting cervical cancer is physical contact with those that have the HPV virus. The following factors increase your risk of becoming infected with HPV:

  • Multiple sexual partners
  • Having a male sexual partner that has had multiple sexual partners
  • A personal history of dysplasia of the cervix, vagina, or vulva
  • Smoking
  • Certain sexually transmitted infections, such as chlamydia
  • Having a mother who took a drug called diethylstilbestrol (DES) during pregnancy

What are some of the symptoms of cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer symptoms include painful sex, vaginal bleeding, and discharge. If you have a cervical cancer symptom or multiple cervical cancer symptoms, it is essential to book an appointment with Dr. Hill for a gynecological exam and pap smear.

Is cervical cancer preventable?

Cervical cancer can be prevented with a vaccine to prevent human papillomavirus (HPV). Other preventative measures include yearly pap smears to detect precancerous changes. Early detection of precancerous cells makes the possibility of cervical cancer rare.

What is cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer starts in the cervix and is primarily caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).

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