Cervical Cancer

Cervical Cancer

The cervix is the lower, narrowing of the uterus that connects the uterus to the vagina. Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix.

In most cases, cervical cancer is caused by a sexually transmitted infection called human papillomavirus (HPV). Additionally, there are other risk factors for developing cervical cancer:

  • High number of sexual partners
  • Unprotected sexual activity
  • Chronic illnesses/ having a weakened immune system
  • Smoking or tobacco use
  • Poor health maintenance including lack of routine pap smears/ pelvic exams

Cervical cancer is usually preventable with routine pap smears, HPV screening and the HPV Vaccine.
All women should begin having pap smears at age 21.

Early-stage cervical cancer generally produces no signs or symptoms. Signs and symptoms of more-advanced cervical cancer include:

  • Vaginal bleeding after intercourse, between periods or after menopause
  • Watery, bloody vaginal discharge that may be heavy and have a foul odor
  • Pelvic pain or pain during intercourse


1. A pap smear is a test to sample cells on the surface of the cervix and screen for cervical dysplasia. HPV testing can be done at the same time. If your pap smear shows precancerous
cells, the physician may perform a colposcopy.

2. A colposcopy is a magnified exam of the cervix to detect abnormal tissue to biopsy. Sometimes an endocervical curettage is done as well and is a sampling of cells from the endocervical canal. The tissue samples are then sent to pathology for diagnosis.

3. Cone biopsy or LEEP (loop electrosurgical excision procedure) – both are procedures under anesthesia to remove a larger amount of abnormal cervical tissue. The tissue is then sent to pathology for diagnosis.
These procedures may be done to remove precancerous cells, diagnose cervical cancer, or to treat very early stages of cervical cancer.

4. Imaging tests take pictures inside the body to see if there is a tumor. They can also show if and
how far the cancer has spread beyond the cervix. This may include an ultrasound, CT scan, PET
scan, or MRI.

Learn More About Cerivcal Cancer Stages

Cervical Cancer Stages

Ways you can reduce your risk of developing cervical cancer:

  • Obtain routine health screenings including well women exams and pap smears.
  • Don’t smoke or stop smoking.
  • Practice safe sexual practices by limiting partners and using condoms.
  • Get the HPV vaccine – This vaccine is available for all boys and girls aged 9-26 and is
    approved by the FDA & CDC for adults aged 27-45.
  • The HPV vaccine is not recommended for everyone older then 27 and is most
    effective when given at a young age, before exposure to HPV.
  • However, older individuals at risk for acquiring a new HPV infection in the future with new
    partners, might benefit from vaccination.

Treatment options for cervical cancer will be individualized and based on physical exam, pathology results and imaging. Treatment may include:

  • In very early stages of cervical cancer a cone biopsy or LEEP (loop electrosurgical excision
    procedure) are both are procedures under anesthesia to remove a larger amount of abnormal
    cervical tissue. With this procedure, there is a chance a second procedure may be needed if
    findings are more extensive.
  • In advanced cases, surgery to remove the cervix and/or uterus, chemotherapy, or radiation are all
    treatment options that alone or in combination may be necessary.

We provide educational material for you to use, print and share with your family friends and loved ones.

Download Cervical Cancer Information