Cervical cancer is cancer cells that start and grow in the cervix. The cervix is the lower, narrow part of the uterus. It connects the uterus with the vagina.
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Cancer happens when cells divide without control or order. These cells grow together to form a tumor. They can invade and damage nearby tissues. They can also spread to other parts of the body.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted infection. It can cause changes in cervical cells. These changes can lead to cancer.
It is not clear what causes changes in the cells. It is likely a combination of genes and environment.
Cervical cancer is more common in women 40 to 49 years old. The risk is higher in developing countries.
The most common risk is having HPV infection and cervical dysplasia. Other things that raise the risk are:
Symptoms usually do not appear until the cells are cancerous. Then, they invade nearby tissue. When this happens, the most common symptom is abnormal bleeding. This may include:
Many women are diagnosed after an abnormal pap test.
Others may go to the doctor due to symptoms. The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. A pelvic exam and will be done.
Tests may include:
Imaging tests may include:
The exam and test results will be used for staging. This will outline how far and fast the cancer has spread.
The goal is to get rid of the cancer. Treatment depends on the stage of the cancer. A combination of treatments may be used.
Options may be:
The risk of cervical cancer may be reduced by:
American Cancer Society
National Cancer Institute
Canadian Cancer Society
Cervical cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cervical-cancer.html. Accessed March 17, 2021.
Cervical cancer. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/cervical. Accessed March 17, 2021.
Cervical cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/cervical-cancer . Accessed March 17, 2021.
General information about cervical cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/cervical/patient/cervical-treatment-pdq. Accessed March 2021.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/infectious-agents/hpv-vaccine-fact-sheet. Accessed March 17, 2021.
Immunization schedules. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/index.html. Accessed March 17, 2021.
Practice Bulletin No. 183 summary: postpartum hemorrhage. Obstet Gynecol. 2017;130(4):923-925.
Last reviewed January 2021 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 3/17/2021