What Are the Basics of Cervical Cancer?

What is cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer refers to the cancer in the cells of cervix. Cervix is the lower part of the uterus, and it connects to the vagina. Cervical cancer occurs when the cells of cervix grow abnormally and form a tumor. Over time, the cancer cells may spread to other tissues and organs, such as bladder, vagina, rectum, lungs and liver.

What causes cervical cancer?

The cause of cervical cancer is still unclear, but human papillomavirus (HPV) is an important factor in causing cervical cancer. HPV is very common and most women with HPV don’t get cervical cancer. The cancer is also related to your overall health, lifestyle and environment.

There are many other factors that may increase the risk of cervical cancer, including:

  • Smoking.
  • Early sexual activity.
  • A weak immune system.
  • Many sexual partners.
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and HIV/AIDS.

What are the types of cervical cancer?

There are two types of cervical cancer:

  • Squamous cell carcinoma.
    This is the most common type of cervical cancer. It means that cancer occur in the squamous cells that line the outer part of the cervix.
  • Adenocarcinoma.
    It means that cancer occurs in the column-shaped glandular cells that line the cervical canal.

What are the symptoms of cervical cancer?

At early stage, people with cervical cancer may not have any symptoms. But symptoms will start to appear over time, including:

  • Vaginal bleeding after intercourse.
  • Pelvic pain or pain during intercourse
  • Vaginal bleeding between menstrual periods.
  • Vaginal bleeding after menopause.
  • Vaginal discharge and odor.

How to diagnose cervical cancer?

If you don’t have any symptoms, you may need to take a screening test. It can diagnose early-stage cervical cancer.

  • Screening tests.
    Pap test.
    HPV DNA test.

If your doctor suspects that you have cervical cancer, you need to do more tests, including:

  • Colposcopic examination.
  • A cervical cell sample test.
    Punch biopsy.
    Endocervical curettage.
    Electrical wire loop.
    Cone biopsy.

If your doctor has determined that you have cervical cancer, you need to do following tests to determine the stage of the cancer.

  • Visual examination of the bladder and rectum.
  • Imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET).

What is the treatment for cervical cancer?

The treatments of cervical cancer should be chosen according to your overall health, the stage of the cancer and your preference. In general, the common treatments include surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

  • Surgery
    Surgery means to remove the uterus and it is often used to treat early-stage cervical cancer. There are two types—simple hysterectomy and radical hysterectomy.
  • Radiation therapy
    Radiation therapy refers to use high-powered energy beams to kill cancer cells. It can be given externally or internally.
  • Chemotherapy
    Chemotherapy means to kill cancer cells by drugs.

If you want learn more about cervical cancer, please consult a medical professional.

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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.