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Cervical Cancer

Overview

Cervical cancer happens here, in the cervix. It’s the lower part of a woman’s womb (or uterus). If this cancer is found early, it can be cured. If left untreated, it can spread to other parts of your body.

Causes

This cancer is often linked to the human papillomavirus. We call it HPV. You get HPV from sex. Many men and women have this virus. It can change some cells in your cervix. The cells then grow out of control. That’s cancer. Not all women with HPV will get cervical cancer, but some do.

Risk Factors

You have a higher risk for cervical cancer if you have sex with many people. It's higher if you start having sex at a young age. Your risk is higher if you have a weak immune system, and if you have certain other sexually-transmitted diseases. You have a higher risk if someone else in your family has had HPV. It's also higher if you smoke.

Symptoms

This cancer may not cause symptoms at first. But as it grows, you may bleed and have a discharge from your vagina that is different from your normal periods. Your pelvis may hurt. And sex may be painful.

Treatment

Treatment depends on the how much your cancer has grown. Sometimes just the cancer cells can be removed or destroyed. If this isn't possible, you may need surgery to remove parts or all of your cervix, uterus and other tissues.

Screening

Catching cancer early is important. A simple Pap test (or Pap smear) can find signs of cancer before it starts. So have regular medical exams. And talk with your doctor about testing for cervical cancer.