The most common cervical cancers we see are squamous cell cancers, which come from the outside of the cervix and adenocarcinoma on the inner part of the cervix. We also see adenosquamous carcinomas, or mixed carcinomas.
1 AnswerLauren Streicher, MD, Obstetrics & Gynecology, answeredEvery year, more than 3.5 million women get that stomach-dropping “your Pap smear is abnormal” notification. But even if dysplasia (abnormal cell growth) is detected, the chance of a real cervical cancer is small. Out of that 3.5 million, only 13,000 are likely to have a true cancer. The rest will either ultimately be found to have nothing wrong with their cervix, or a dysplasia that is easily treated or, even more likely, goes away on its own.
Call your doctor if you have:
- Unexpected bleeding between menstrual periods.
- Menstrual periods that are irregular or 1½ to 2 times longer than normal for 3 months in a row. For example, call if your periods usually last 6 days but have been lasting between 9 and 12 days for your last 3 periods.
- Severe vaginal bleeding that causes you to soak 1 or 2 pads or tampons in 1 or 2 hours, or passing clots of blood from the vagina.
- Unexpected bleeding after douching or sex.
- Pain during sex.
- Abnormal vaginal discharge containing mucus that may be tinged with blood.
If you are diagnosed - If you have been diagnosed with cervical cancer, be sure to follow your doctor's instructions about calling when you have problems, new symptoms or symptoms that get worse.
Who to see - Health professionals who can evaluate your symptoms and your risk factors, and who can diagnose cervical cancer include:
- Family physicians.
- Nurse practitioners.
- Physician assistants.
Doctors who can manage your cancer treatment include:
- Gynecologic oncologists.
- Radiation oncologists.
- Medical oncologists.
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Things that may increase your risk for cervical cancer include:
- Having an ongoing infection with a high-risk type of human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). It is the most common cause of cervical cancer.
- High-risk sexual behaviors. These include having more than one sex partner or having a sex partner who has more than one partner. Safer sex can reduce your risk.
- Having an impaired immune system. For example, women with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) seem to have higher rates of HPV infection, be more likely to develop cervical cell changes from HPV, and be more likely to quickly develop cervical cancer from those cell changes.
- Being exposed to diethylstilbestrol (DES) before birth (prenatal exposure). This is rare.
- Smoking cigarettes or breathing in secondhand smoke.
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1 AnswerThese things may help lower your risk for cervical cancer:
- Don't smoke.
- Use condoms during sex. Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection can occur in both male and female genital areas that are covered or protected by a latex condom, as well as in areas that are not covered.
- Limit your number of sexual partners.
2 AnswersHuman papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines protect against the types of HPV that most commonly cause cervical cancer. Two HPV vaccines are licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These vaccines are Gardasil (made by Merck) and Cervarix (made by GlaxoSmithKline). Both vaccines are very effective against HPV types 16 and 18, which cause most cervical cancers. So both vaccines prevent cervical cancer and precancer in women.
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Advanced or metastatic cervical cancer is cancer that has spread from the cervix to deeper tissues in the pelvic area or to other organs of the body. Advanced cervical cancer is rare in women who have regular screening tests such as the Pap test.
Advanced cervical cancer is usually treated with radiation, chemotherapy or a combination of both. Sometimes surgery is done if the cancer is all contained in the pelvis.
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2 AnswersTwo screening tests can help prevent cervical cancer or find it early:
- The Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for precancers, cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately.
- The human papillomavirus (HPV) test looks for the virus that can cause these cell changes.
1 AnswerYou could get urinary incontinence if radiation for cervical cancer causes a lot of inflammation in the bladder. Urgency is some peoples' view of incontinence. That’s more common than real incontinence, where you lose control of the bladder muscles and you leak.
1 AnswerAurora Health Care answeredDiagnostic equipment may be used to see if cervical cancer has spread. This may include:
- Intravenous urography: Also known as intravenous pyelography (IVP), a contrast "dye" is injected into a vein to highlight the urinary system for viewing on x-ray.
- Cystoscopy or proctoscopy: To check to see if cancer has spread to the urethra or bladder, a thin, lighted tube (cystoscope) is inserted through your urethra. Similarly, a proctoscope is inserted into your rectum to check for cancer there.
- Computed tomography (CT) scan: combines multiple x-rays to provide three-dimensional clarity and show various types of tissue, including blood vessels. CT not only confirms the presence of a tumor, but can show its precise location, size, and involvement with adjacent tissue.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): Magnets and radio waves provide three-dimensional body images. Used to view biochemical changes in your body, MRI imaging detects cancerous tumors, particularly those that have spread outside your cervix. It may also be used to determine if a tumor is benign or malignant.
- Positron emission tomography (PET) scan: A specific dye injected into a vein highlights cancer cells growing anywhere in your body, which can then be detected by a special camera.