Cervical cancer is the term for a malignant neoplasm arising from cells originating in the cervix uteri. One of the most common symptoms of cervical cancer is abnormal vaginal bleeding, but in some cases there may be no obvious symptoms until the cancer has progressed to an advanced stage.
Unlike other cancers, cervical cancer is not hereditary, it is caused by certain types of HPV.
HPV is spread through sex, and it can cause an infection in the cervix. The infection usually doesn’t last very long because your body is able to fight the infection, if it doesn't go away, the virus may cause cervix cells to change and become pre-cancer cells. Sometimes, the pre-cancer cells may turn into cancer if they are not found and treated.
A small number of women do not clear the HPV virus and are considered to have persistent infection. A woman with a persistent HPV infection is at greater risk of developing cervical cell abnormalities and cancer than a woman whose infection resolves on its own.
It's not clear why some women are more likely to develop cervical cancer. Some types of HPV are simply more aggressive than are others. According to the American Cancer Society, women who smoke are about twice as likely as nonsmokers to develop cervical cancer.
When a woman is exposed to HPV, her immune system usually prevents the virus from doing any serious harm. But in a small number of women, the virus survives for years and can lead to the conversion of normal cells on the surface of the cervix into cancerous cells.
Cervical cancer usually does not have symptoms until it is quite advanced. For this reason, it is important for women to get regular screening for cervical cancer. Screening tests can find early signs of disease so that problems can be treated early, before they ever turn into cancer.
Treatments of cervical cancer include: A hysterectomy and removal of pelvic lymph nodes with or without removal of both ovaries and fallopian tubes, Radiation therapy, and Chemotherapy.
Cervical cancer that is caught early can usually be cured. If the cancer is caught very early, you still may be able to have children after treatment. The treatment for most stages of cervical cancer removes the cancer and makes you unable to have children.
It is important to get tested for cervical cancer because 6 out of 10 cases occur in women who have never received a Pap test or have not been tested in the past five years.
Cervical cancer affects approximately 13,000 women in the United States each year, and more than 4,000 of women will die. Cervical cancer is the second most common type of cancer for women worldwide, but because it develops over time, it is also one of the most preventable types of cancer.