Cervical Cancer (cont.)

Risk factors

When you get a diagnosis of cervical cancer, it's natural to wonder what may have caused the disease. Doctors usually can't explain why one woman develops cervical cancer and another doesn't.

However, we do know that a woman with certain risk factors may be more likely than other women to develop cervical cancer. A risk factor is something that may increase the chance of developing a disease.

Studies have found that infection with the virus called HPV is the cause of almost all cervical cancers. Most adults have been infected with HPV at some time in their lives, but most infections clear up on their own. An HPV infection that doesn't go away can cause cervical cancer in some women.

Other risk factors, such as smoking, can act to increase the risk of cervical cancer among women infected with HPV even more.

A woman's risk of cervical cancer can be reduced by getting regular cervical cancer screening tests. If abnormal cervical cell changes are found early, cancer can be prevented by removing or killing the changed cells before they become cancer cells.

Another way a woman can reduce her risk of cervical cancer is by getting an HPV vaccine before becoming sexually active (between the ages of 9 and 26). Even women who get an HPV vaccine need regular cervical cancer screening tests.

Symptoms

Early cervical cancers usually don't cause symptoms. When the cancer grows larger, women may notice abnormal vaginal bleeding:

  • Bleeding that occurs between regular menstrual periods
  • Bleeding after sexual intercourse, douching, or a pelvic exam
  • Menstrual periods that last longer and are heavier than before
  • Bleeding after going through menopause

Women may also notice...

Cervical cancer, infections, or other health problems may cause these symptoms. A woman with any of these symptoms should tell her doctor so that problems can be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.


Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Cervical Cancer - Risk Factors Question: Did you have any of the risk factors for cervical cancer at the time of your diagnosis? If so, what were they?
Cervical Cancer - Symptoms Question: What symptoms did you experience with cervical cancer?
Cervical Cancer - Treatments Question: What treatment has been effective for your cervical cancer?
Cervical Cancer - Share Your Experience Question: Did you have cervical cancer or a precancerous cervical condition? Please share your experience.
Cervical Cancer - Diagnosis Question: Please discuss the tests or exams that led to a diagnosis of cervical cancer.
Cervical Cancer - Share Surgery Experience Question: Did you have a surgical procedure to treat cervical cancer or a precancerous condition? Please share your experience.

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