Medical Definition of Cervical cancer

  • Medical Author:
    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: Cancer of the entrance to the womb (uterus). The cervix is the lower, narrow part of the uterus (womb). The uterus, a hollow, pear-shaped organ, is located in a woman's lower abdomen, between the bladder and the rectum. The cervix forms a canal that opens into the vagina, which leads to the outside of the body.

Female Illustration - Cervical Cancer
Regular pelvic exams and Pap testing can detect precancerous changes in the cervix. Precancerous changes in the cervix may be treated with cryosurgery, cauterization, or laser surgery. The most common symptom of cancer of the cervix is abnormal bleeding. Cancer of the cervix can be diagnosed using a Pap test or other procedures that sample the cervix tissue. Cancer of the cervix requires different treatment than cancer that begins in other parts of the uterus.

A number of risk factors have been identified for cervical cancer. Women who begin having sexual intercourse before age 18 and have many sexual partners are at increased risk for cervical cancer. Likewise, if their partners begin having sexual intercourse at a young age and have many sexual partners, especially one who had cervical cancer. The relevance of sexual history is believe to have to do with the chance of infection with the human papillomaviruses (HPV), a sexually transmitted virus, which may trigger cervical cancer. Other risk factors include exposure before birth to the drug diethylstilbestrol (DES), smoking, and immunodeficiency.

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Reviewed on 12/4/2018

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