Cervical cancer is cancer of the cervix. The cervix is the lower part of (opening to) your uterus (womb). It connects your uterus with your vagina.
Cervical cancer is usually caused by HPV (human papillomavirus) infection, a common virus you can get from having unprotected sex
You may have no symptoms until the cancer has grown or spread
Cervical cancer can spread to other organs near your cervix or throughout your body
Treatment can include surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy
Doctors can detect cervical cancer very early with a Pap test
The HPV vaccine helps to prevent cervical cancer
Cervical cancer is most commonly caused by HPV (human papillomavirus). You can get from HPV having unprotected sex. HPV also causes genital warts.
Early cervical cancer often has no symptoms.
The first symptom is usually:
Symptoms of later cervical cancer include:
Without treatment, cervical cancer can cause death.
Doctors can find cervical cancer and cervical dysplasia (pre-cancer growths) with a Pap test. A Pap test is done during a pelvic exam.
If your cells look abnormal, doctors take out a small piece of your cervix to look at under a microscope (biopsy).
If you have cervical cancer, doctors will see how large the cancer is and how far it has spread using tests like:
Treatment can include:
Early cancer that hasn't spread beyond the surface of your cervix can be taken out using surgery. Because doctors need to remove only a piece of your cervix, they do the surgery through your vagina. Procedures include:
LEEP—a thin wire loop used with electricity to remove the cancer
A laser—this procedure can be done in your doctor's office using numbing medicine around the abnormal tissue areas first
A knife—this surgery is done in the hospital while you're asleep
These surgeries don't affect your ability to get pregnant. However, you will have to deliver your babies by C-section.
More advanced cancer that hasn't spread far may be treated with a hysterectomy. In a hysterectomy, the doctor takes out your uterus and sometimes nearby tissue. Sometimes, doctors will do radiation therapy after the hysterectomy. If the cancer has spread, doctors may just give you radiation therapy along with chemotherapy. After radiation and chemotherapy, doctors sometimes do surgery to take out cancer that remains.
You can find cervical cancer before it can grow or spread by getting regular Pap tests. Doctors recommend:
You can help prevent cervical cancer by getting the HPV vaccine (shot) when you're young.
If you didn't get the vaccine when you were 11 or 12, doctors may give it to you up until you're 27.
Adults 27 to 45 who have not been vaccinated should talk with their doctors about whether they should be vaccinated.