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Cervical Cancer

Each year, more than 13,200 women are diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer and (cancer that has spread from the surface of the cervix to tissue deeper in the cervix or to other body parts) and more than 4,200 die from the disease.

Cervical cancer used to be one of the most common causes of cancer death in women in the United States. Since the introduction of the Pap test (also called a Pap smear) more than 50 years ago, the rate of death from cervical cancer has decreased dramatically.

You might be at an increased risk for cervical cancer if you are a woman who:

  • Are over 30 and have a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection that hasn’t cleared. HPV is a common sexually-transmitted virus that can cause at least six types of cancer, including cervical cancer.
  • Began having sex at an early age.
  • Have multiple sex partners.
  • Do not have regular cervical screenings.
  • Smoke.
  • Using birth control pills for a long time.
  • Have weakened immune systems, such as women who have the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
  • Are overweight or obese.
  • Have a close relative, such as a sister or mother, who has had cervical cancer.
  • Were exposed to diethylstilbestrol (DES) before birth.

Precancerous conditions of the cervix do not usually cause symptoms and are only detected with a pelvic exam and a Pap test.

Talk with your health care professional right now if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Increased or unusual discharge from the vagina
  • Blood spots or light bleeding at times other than a normal period
  • Menstrual bleeding that lasts longer and is heavier than usual
  • Bleeding or pain during or after sex
  • Bleeding after menopause

Cervical cancer usually does not show symptoms until later stages. Pelvic exams, Pap tests, and HPV tests are key to early detection.

Cervical cancer is highly preventable in most Western countries because screening tests and a vaccine to prevent human papillomavirus (HPV) infections are available. When cervical cancer is found early, it is highly treatable and associated with long survival and good quality of life.

Cervical cancer is the easiest gynecologic cancer to prevent, with regular screening tests and follow-up. Two screening tests can help prevent cervical cancer or find it early—

  • The Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for precancers, cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately.
  • The HPV test looks for the virus (human papillomavirus) that can cause these cell changes.

Cervical cancer is treated through surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. These therapies may be given alone or in combination with one another.

Treatment depends on the stage of the cancer, the type of tumor cells and your medical condition.

Resources

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News | May 3, 2019#VaccinesWork: Your best shot at cancer prevention
News | Apr 23, 2019National Minority Health Month: Cancer is not equal
News | Jan 31, 2019If only…
Event | Jan 22, 2019HPV Awareness Week (Jan. 22-28)
News | Jan 18, 2019Invest in Your Health – WTOP interviews Carolyn Aldige and Dr. Jim Mulshine of the Prevent Cancer Foundation
News | Oct 1, 2018A Window to Hope: The Living in Pink Breast Cancer Clinic
News | Aug 21, 2018Women’s Health Advocates Applaud USPSTF Decision To Retain Co-Testing in Cervical Cancer Screening Guidelines
News | Aug 13, 2018It’s time to observe National Immunization Awareness Month!
News | Jul 19, 2018The Prevent Cancer Foundation® commends Reps. Young and DeLauro for protecting access to comprehensive cervical cancer screening
News | Jun 7, 2018NCI-Designated Cancer Centers Endorse Goal of Eliminating HPV-Related Cancers
News | Jun 4, 2018Take the pledge: Health care professionals commit to talking to patients about HPV and cancer
News | Apr 16, 2018National Minority Health Month
News | Feb 27, 2018Celebrity Big Brother winner and Broadway star Marissa Jaret Winokur wants you to Think About the Link® between HPV and cancer
News | Nov 10, 2017ICYMI: November 10, 2017
Video | Nov 7, 2017Campaign Overview Video
News | Sep 14, 2017Broadway star and Tony Award-winner wants you to Think About the Link® between viruses and cancer
Video | Sep 12, 2017Marissa Jaret Winokur wants you to Think About the Link®
News | Aug 23, 2017Vaccines can lower your cancer risk
News | Aug 15, 2017Back-to-school vaccinations
News | Aug 9, 2017Start the new school year with new healthy habits
News | Aug 8, 2017Raising awareness in New York City
News | Jul 31, 2017College of American Pathologists Foundation teams with Prevent Cancer Foundation® to curb cancer in Appalachia
News | Jul 13, 2017Media Advisory: Tony Award winner Marissa Jaret Winokur to share personal cancer story and talk about the importance of HPV vaccination
News | Jun 29, 2017Think About the Link® on Capitol Hill
News | May 3, 2017Navigating women to healthier lives
Video | May 1, 2017Think About the Link® PSA featuring Alejandro Escovedo (60 sec)
Video | May 1, 2017Think About the Link® PSA featuring Alejandro Escovedo (30 sec)
News | Apr 27, 2017Why boys need the HPV vaccine, too
News | Feb 17, 2017ICYMI: February 17, 2017
News | Feb 7, 2017Cancer-associated viruses are a threat to those living with HIV
News | Jan 27, 2017ICYMI: January 27, 2017
News | Jan 24, 2017Cervical cancer kills more women than we thought
News | Jan 23, 2017January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month: One family’s cervical cancer journey
News | Jan 20, 2017ICYMI: January 20, 2016
News | Jan 19, 2017No woman should die of cervical cancer
News | Jan 13, 2017Community grantees promote cancer prevention through HPV vaccination

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