Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers affecting women's reproductive organs. The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common cause of cervical cancer. There are more than 100 different strains of the virus, but only a few strains are considered to be high risk. It is potentially preventable by vaccination with the HPV vaccine. Precancerous cells can be identified by Pap smears.
There are two main types of cervical cancer:
- Squamous cell carcinomas
- 80-90 percent of cervical cancers
- 10-20 percent of cervical cancers
Sometimes both types of cells are involved in cervical cancer. Very rare cancers can occur in other cells in the cervix.
The most common symptom of cervical cancer is vaginal bleeding. Pelvic pain can also occur.
The first indication of cervical cancer may be from an abnormal Pap smear. A biopsy can confirm the diagnosis.
Cervical cancer symptoms may include:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
- Unusual heavy vaginal discharge
- Pelvic pain not related to the normal menstrual cycle
- Bladder pain during urination
- Bleeding between regular menstrual periods, after sexual intercourse, douching or pelvic exam
A doctor will perform a physical examination, review symptoms and perform testing for cervical cancer that can include:
- Blood Tests
If initial testing indicates the presence of cervical cancer, treatments may include:
- Radiation Therapy
- External Beam Radiation Therapy (EBRT)
- Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)
- High Dose Rate Brachytherapy (HDR)
- Participation in a clinical trial
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