Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix. The cervix is in the bottom part of the uterus (or womb, where a baby grows). It joins the uterus to the vagina (birth canal).
Most women who develop cervical cancer are between 20 and 50 years old. It used to be one of the main causes of death from cancer in the United States, but the widespread use of the Pap test and HPV vaccine has helped doctors find cervical cancer in early stages, increasing survival rates. Cervical cancer often can be treated successfully when it is caught and treated early.
At Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center, cervical cancer is treated with a multidisciplinary approach. You have a team of experts, including gynecological oncologists and radiation oncologists, working together to develop an individual care plan based on your unique needs.
Human papillomavirus (HPV), which is transmitted sexually transmitted disease, is the leading cause of cervical cancer. Most people who have had sex have HPV and generally, your body handles the virus without you even knowing. Factors like age, smoking, health and lifestyle also affect your likelihood of developing cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer usually doesn’t have any early signs or symptoms. The best way to prevent cervical cancer is to get regular well-woman exams, Pap tests and HPV tests. Some cervical cancer may present with vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain or leg pain.
Cervical cancer screening, including Pap and HPV tests, can find cervical cancer at an early stage, improving patient outcomes. Additional testing, including biopsy, pelvic exam, MRI or blood tests may be needed as well. Based on your test results, your doctor will assess your stage of cancer and discuss your treatment options.
Cervical cancer is often treated with surgery, radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy. Your doctor will discuss with your treatment options based on your diagnosis and cancer stage. Treatment for cervical cancer is generally successful when caught early.