Cervical Cancer (Cancer of the Cervix)

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Cervical Cancer Slideshow Pictures

Quick GuideCervical Cancer Pictures Slideshow: Symptoms, Stages and Treatment

Cervical Cancer Pictures Slideshow: Symptoms, Stages and Treatment

What are the symptoms and signs of cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer may not produce any symptoms or signs. In particular, early stage cervical cancers, like precancerous changes, typically do not produce symptoms. Symptoms may develop when the cervical cancer cells start to invade surrounding tissues.

Symptoms and signs of cervical cancer include:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Vaginal bleeding after menopause
  • Vaginal bleeding after sex
  • Bleeding or spotting between periods
  • Longer or heavier menstrual periods than usual
  • Other abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Pain during sexual intercourse

It is important to note that these symptoms are not specific for cervical cancer and can be caused by a variety of conditions.

What are the risk factors for cervical cancer?

As described previously, cervical cancers are caused by infection with one of the high-risk HPV types. However, since not all people who are infected with HPV will develop cancer, it is likely that other factors also play a role in the development of cervical cancer. Certain risk factors have been identified that increase a woman's risk for developing cervical cancer:

  • Tobacco smoking
  • HIV infection
  • Immune system suppression
  • Past or current Chlamydia infection
  • Overweight
  • Long-term use of oral contraceptives (although the risk returns to normal when the contraceptive pills are discontinued)
  • Having 3 or more full-term pregnancies
  • Having a first full-term pregnancy before age 17
  • Poverty
  • Family history of cervical cancer
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/4/2016
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