What is cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer is a common malignant tumor of the female reproductive system, specifically the cervix of the uterus. Cervical cancer is the third most common type of cancer in women in the world. However, the routine use of Pap smear screening has made it far less common in the United States, according to the National Institutes of Health. (Source: NIH).

The cervix is the organ that provides an opening between the vagina and the uterus. Normally, cells in a woman’s cervix that are old or damaged will stop dividing and die. These cells are replaced by healthy young cells. The earliest, precancerous stage of cervical cancer occurs when old or damaged cells continue to divide in the superficial layer of the cervix. This is called cervical dysplasia. When cervical dysplasia is not treated, it can grow and spread into the deeper tissues of the cervix, developing into cervical cancer.

Regular Pap smear screening tests can detect cervical dysplasia long before it develops into cervical cancer. Cervical dysplasia is 100% treatable. Once cervical cancer has developed, the prognosis varies depending on the cancer’s stage of advancement; your age, general health status, and medical history; and other factors.

Cervical cancer can lead to life-threatening complications and be fatal, especially if it goes undetected and untreated. Seeking regular medical care offers the best chances of discovering cervical cancer in its earliest, most curable stage. If you have cervical cancer, following your treatment plan may help reduce your risk of serious complications. The good news is that if diagnosed and treated in an early stage of development, cervical cancer is curable in many cases.


SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer generally produces no symptoms in its earliest stages. There are also frequently no symptoms of cervical dysplasia, the precancerous condition that develops into cervical cancer, or human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, which causes most cases of cervical dysplasia and cervical cancer.

When symptoms of cervical cancer occur, they may indicate that the cancer has pr... Read more about cervical cancersymptoms

CAUSES

What causes cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer is most often caused by an infection of human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV, which can also cause genital warts, is spread through sexual contact, most often through vaginal and anal sex. Having vaginal sex with a person who has HPV can cause cervical dysplasia, a precancerous condition. If undetecte... Read more about cervical cancercauses

TREATMENTS

How is cervical cancer treated?

Treatment of cervical cancer begins with seeking regular medical care throughout your life. Regular medical care allows your health care professional to best evaluate your risks of developing cervical cancer, perform routine Pap smear screening, and promptly order further diagnostic testing as needed. These measures greatly increase the chances of detecting cervical cancer in its earliest, most... Read more about cervical cancertreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 9, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

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This Article is Filed Under: Cancer, Female Reproductive System, Cervical Cancer