What Is Cervical Cancer FAQ?

What Is Cervical Cancer FAQ?

What is Cervical Cancer? 

Cancer is a disease in which cells in the body grow out of control. Cancer is always named for the part of the body where it starts, even if it spreads to other body parts later. When cancer starts in the  cervix, it is called cervical cancer. The cervix is the lower, narrow  end of the uterus. The cervix connects the vagina (the birth canal) to the upper part of the uterus. The uterus (or womb) is where a baby grows when a woman is pregnant. Cervical cancer is the easiest gynecologic cancer to prevent with regular screening tests and follow-up. It also is highly curable when found and treated early.

Who Is Affected By Cervical Cancer? 

Females are affected by cervical cancer, and it primarily occurs in women who are over 40, but it can occur in younger females, including teenagers. Within the United States, nearly 14,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, and approximately 1,500 females will die from the condition, especially when they do not seek early treatment, according to the American Cancer Society. This type of cancer occurs on the cervix that is located near to a female’s internal reproductive organs, and the cancerous cells can spread into the other reproductive organs, the bloodstream or the bones, leading to additional deaths from cancer. 

What Are the Symptoms from Cervical Cancer? 

Cervical cancer awareness can save a woman’s life, and there are several symptoms that occur with cervical cancer, including: 

  • Extreme fatigue 
  • Weight loss 
  • Nausea 
  • Vaginal discharge 
  • Heavy or irregular menstrual periods 
  • Spotting between menstrual periods 
  • Pain in the pelvis 

Many women have no symptoms from cervical cancer, and the condition is only diagnosed after the cancer has spread to other regions of the body. 

How Is Cervical Cancer Detected? 

Physicians recommend routine Pap smears or tests for adult females to detect cervical cancer in the earliest stages. This test requires a visit to a physician’s office where a female will recline on an examination table with special stirrups so that the physician can collect a sample from the woman’s cervix. This sample is sent to a medical laboratory to determine if there are cancerous cells. If the Pap smear is positive, then the physician will conduct more laboratory tests to determine if the cancerous cells have spread to other areas of the woman’s body or if the cancer is localized to the cervix. 


What should I do if my doctor says I have cervical cancer?

If your doctor says that you have cervical cancer, ask to be referred to a gynecologic oncologist—a doctor who has been trained to treat cancers like this. This doctor will work with you to create a treatment plan.


Where can I find free or  low-cost cervical cancer screening tests?

If you have a low income or do not have insurance, you may be able to get a free or low-cost cervical cancer screening test through the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. To learn more, call 800-CDC-INFO or visit  www.cdc.gov/cancer/nbccedp. You can also visit this link to find a screening program for you.


What Is the Treatment for Cervical Cancer? 

The most common treatment for cervical cancer is surgery to remove a localized tumor or to remove portions of the cervix. Many females have a hysterectomy that might include the removal of the ovaries. In some cases, other surrounding tissues are removed from the abdominal area. Today, most of these surgeries require tiny incisions that will heal faster and cause less discomfort. 


Conization: A procedure to remove a cone-shaped piece of tissue from the cervix and cervical canal. A pathologist views the tissue under a microscope to look for cancer cells. Conization may be used to diagnose or treat a cervical condition. This procedure is also called a cone biopsy.

Conization may be done using one of the following procedures:

Cold-knife conization: A surgical procedure that uses a scalpel (sharp knife) to remove abnormal tissue or cancer.

Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP): A surgical procedure that uses electrical current passed through a thin wire loop as a knife to remove abnormal tissue or cancer.

Laser surgery: A surgical procedure that uses a laser beam (a narrow beam of intense light) as a knife to make bloodless cuts in tissue or to remove a surface lesion such as a tumor.

Options include:

  • Chemotherapy: Using special medicines to shrink or kill the cancer. The drugs can be pills you take or medicines given in your veins, or sometimes both.
  • Radiation: Using high-energy rays (similar to X-rays) to kill the cancer.
  • Targeted Therapy: Targeted Therapy is a type of treatment that uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific cancer cells. Targeted therapies usually cause less harm to normal cells than chemotherapy or radiation therapy do.
  • Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy is a treatment that uses the patient's immune system to fight cancer. Substances made by the body or made in a laboratory are used to boost, direct, or restore the body's natural defenses against cancer.
  • Clinical Trials: You can visit this site recommended by the National Cancer Institute to participate in clinical trials.

When Does a Woman Need Treatment? 

Some types of cervical cancer spread rapidly, so a physician will typically recommend treatment within a few days to save a woman’s life. It is important for a woman to make plans for treatment as fast as possible to have the best outcome. 

When Does Remission Occur? 

After surgery or other types of treatments for cervical cancer, physicians will continue to collect tissue and blood samples to look for cancerous cells. A woman must continue to visit her physician for examinations to determine if the cancer has spread to her other organs. According to the American Cancer Society, if cervical cancer is caught early, the survival rate, after five years, is over 90%. Nearly 50% of women who are diagnosed are at an early stage. If the cancer has spread to the surrounding area, the five year survival rate is close to 60%. If the cancer has spread throughout the body, nearly 20% is the five year survival rate.

What Causes Cervical Cancer? 

With research, scientists have learned that cervical cancer occurs more in females who have multiple sexual partners or who have engaged in sexual contact at a younger age. Additional reasons for developing cervical cancer include taking birth control pills, smoking cigarettes or having a HPV infection. However, most females today do have one or more types of HPV infection, and many of these women do not develop cervical cancer. An important part of cervical cancer awareness is for females to understand the risk factors so that women can protect themselves from this health problem.

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