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Category: Gynecology | Oncology

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Cervical cancer overview

Published: July 05, 2009. Updated: July 27, 2009

 

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Cervical cancer is one of the more common cancers affecting women of reproductive age.

Risk factors for cervical cancer

One of the high risk factors for cervical cancer is the presence of antibodies to the human papillomavirus (the same group of viruses that cause genital warts). Although benign, the virus is believed to trigger alterations in the cells of the cervix, leading to the development of cancer. The strains of HPV linked to cervical cancer (strains 16, 18 and 31), are not the ones that cause genital warts. Women are advised to have a pap smear annually to check for precancerous cells, or other abnormalities. If cervical cancer is detected early, it can be treated without impairing fertility.

Pathology of cervical cancer

  • Squamous cell carcinoma (90%)
  • Adenocarcinoma (10%)

Symptoms of cervical cancer

Cervical cancer or early cervical pre-cancers often have no signs or symptoms. That's why it's important to get Pap tests regularly. If you have any of these symptoms, call your doctor right away.

  • Any unusual discharge from the vagina
  • Blood spots or light bleeding when you're not having your period
  • Bleeding or pain during sex

Diagnosis

Diagnosis is confirmed by pathology. CT scans are helpful both in diagnosis and in staging of this disease.

Staging of cervical cancer

  • Staging system for cervical cancer

Treatment

Cervical cancer can be treated with surgery and radiation in its early stages, or chemotherapy in later stages of the disease.


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