About Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer is a disease in which cancerous cells form in the tissues of the cervix.
Signs & Symptoms
These are signs of cervical cancer:
- Vaginal bleeding, including bleeding after sexual intercourse
- Unusual vaginal discharge
- Pelvic pain
- Painful sex
Many other health problems can also cause these signs. If you have any of these signs, see your doctor as soon as possible.
Learn more about cervical cancer from the National Cancer Institute.
Image of the Female Reproductive System
Specialties & Treatments
The treatment or combination of treatments each patient has depends on the stage of the cancer, recommendations of the care team, and the patient’s wishes. These are the most common types of treatment for cervical cancer:
- Radiation therapy
- Targeted therapy
Huntsman Cancer Institute’s Gynecologic Cancers Program provides comprehensive, compassionate, state-of-the-art care for cancers of the female reproductive organs. Our experts treat and diagnose all types of these cancers and conditions.
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Causes & Risk Factors
Anything that increases your chance of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean you are sure to get cancer. It means your chances are higher than the average person's. Talk with your doctor to learn more about your cancer risk.
The chance of getting cervical cancer increases with age. These are other risk factors:
- A personal history of cervical cancer or other cervical disease
- A family history of cervical cancer
- Being infected with the human papillomavirus (HPV)
Diagnosis & Stages
Screening & Diagnosis of Cervical Cancer
Screening looks for cancer before you have symptoms. Screening can also check for anything unusual if you notice changes in your cervix. Screening can rule out an issue or help find cancer at an early stage, when it may be easier to treat.
Doctors use these tests to screen for and diagnose cervical cancer:
- Pelvic exam: A health care provider checks the vagina, cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and rectum for signs of cancer.
- Pap test: A health care provider collects cells from the surface of the cervix and vagina so they can be viewed under a microscope to make sure they are normal.
- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): This test uses a powerful magnetic field, radio waves, and a computer to produce detailed pictures of the inside of your body.
- Biopsy: The health care provider removes cell or tissue samples so they can be viewed under a microscope to check for signs of cancer.
- Physical exam and history: A health care provider examines your body for signs of disease. Your personal health habits, past illnesses, and symptoms help guide the exam.
- Laboratory tests, including human papillomavirus (HPV) testing: Through testing body tissues, blood, urine, or other substances in the body, your health care team can check to see how the liver and other organs are functioning. They can also look for substances that cells produce when cancer is present.
- Biopsy: Removal of cells or tissues so they can be viewed under a microscope to check for signs of cancer.
Stages of Cervical Cancer
Staging is the process that shows whether cancer has spread within or around the cervix or to other parts of the body. Cancer spreads in the body in three ways: through tissue, the lymph system, or the blood.
These are the stages used for cervical cancer:
- Stage 0: Stage 0 cancers are often called carcinoma in situ. For stage 0 cervical cancer, abnormal cells have been found on the lining of the cervix.These abnormal cells may become cancer and spread.
- Stage I (IA1, 1A2, IB1, IB2): Cancer is found in the cervix only.
- Stage II (IIA1, IIA2, IIB): The cancer has spread beyond the cervix but not onto the pelvic wall or to the lower part of the vagina.
- Stage III (IIIA, IIIB): The cancer has spread to the pelvic wall, to the lower part of the vagina, or has caused kidney problems.
- Stage IV (IVA, IVB): The cancer has spread to organs away from the cervix such as the liver or lungs.
When cancer spreads from where it started to another part of the body, it is called metastasis. These metastatic cancer cells are the same type of cancer as the primary tumor. For example, if cervical cancer spreads to the bone, the cancer cells in the bone are actually cervical cancer cells. The disease is metastatic cervical cancer, not bone cancer.
Learn more about the stages of cervical cancer from the National Cancer Institute.