cervical cancer

Cervical Cancer Causes, Risk Factors, Symptoms And Treatment

(Last Updated On: April 5, 2018)

What is Cervical Cancer ? 

Cervical cancer definitionIt is a type of cancer that happens in the cells of the cervix — the lower a part of the uterus that connects to the vagina.

According to American cancer society , About 13,240 new cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed and 4170 women will be die from cervical cancer in 2018.

Types of Cervical Cancer

The type of cervical cancer that you have helps confirm your prognosis and treatment.

The main types are:

Squamous cell carcinoma  : It is begins within the skinny, flat cells (squamous cells) lining the outer part of the cervix, that comes into the vagina.

Majority cervical cancers are squamous cell carcinomas.

Adenocarcinoma : It is occurs in the column like glandular cells that line the cervical canal.

Sometimes, both types of cells are involved in cervical cancer. very rarely, cancer happens in other cells in the cervix.

Cervical cancer symptoms and signs

The most common signs and symptoms of cervical cancer are :

♦ Abnormal vaginal bleeding

 Pain during Intercourse

Pelvic Pain

Unusual Vaginal Discharge

Changes to bowel movements

Longer and Heavier Menstrual Periods

For detailed information on cervical cancer symptoms click here

Cervical Cancer Causes

Cancer is the results of the uncontrolled division and growth of abnormal cells.

Most of the cells in our body have a fixed lifespan and once they die, new cells are made to switch them.

Abnormal cells will have 2 problems – they do not die and they continue dividing.

This leads to an unnecessary growth of cells, that ultimately forms a lump, otherwise referred to as a tumor.

Scientists are not completely sure why cells become cancerous.

Cervical Cancer Risk Factors

Risk Factors For Cervical Cancer Are :

HPV (human papillomavirus) :  A sexually transmitted virus. There are over 100 different types of HPV, a minimum of 13 of which may cause cervical cancer.

Having several sexual partners or becoming sexually active early : Cervical cancer-causing HPV types are nearly continuously transmitted as a result of sexual contact with an infected individual.

Girls who have had several sexual partners generally have a higher risk of becoming infected with HPV. This raises their risk of developing cervical cancer.

Smoking : This will increase the risk of cervical and other cancers.

Weak Immune System : the risk of cervical cancer is higher in people who have HIV or AIDS, and people who have undergone a transplant, requiring the immune system supporting medicine.

Long-term mental stress : High levels of stress over a sustained period might create it tougher to defend HPV. A study published in 2016 supported this.

The researchers found that: “Women who reported self-destructive coping strategies, like drinking, smoking cigarettes or taking drugs when stressed, were more probably to develop an active HPV infection.”

Giving birth at a very young age : girls who give birth before the age of 17 years are considerably more probably to develop cervical cancer, compared with girls who have their 1st baby after the age of 25 years.

Several pregnancies : girls who have had a minimum of 3 children in separate pregnancies are more probably to develop cervical cancer, compared with girls who haven’t had children.

Birth control pills : long use of some common contraceptive pills slightly raises a woman’s risk.

Other sexually transmitted diseases (STD) : Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis increase the danger of developing cervical cancer.

Socio-economic status : Rates seem to be higher in areas where income are low.

Overweight : the girls who are overweight or who have Bmi Index 25 to 29.9 are more likely to get cervical cancer.

Family history of cervical cancer : If your family member or relatives has cervical cancer than you are at high risk of getting cervical cancer.

Cervical Cancer Prevention

The Ways to Prevent Cervical Cancer Are :

Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine :

HPV Causes Cervical Cancer and If every female adheres to current HPV vaccination programs, cervical cancer might probably be reduced.

Safe sex and cervical cancer :

The HPV vaccine only protects against 2 HPV strains. There are different strains which might cause cervical cancer. using a condom during sex helps shield from HPV infection.

Cervical screening :

Regular cervical screening can build it way more possible that signs of cancer are picked up early and controlled before the condition can develop, or spread too far.

Screening doesn’t find cancer, however, detects changes in the cells of the cervix.

Having fewer sexual partners :

The more sexual partners a girl has, the higher the chance of transmitting the HPV virus, which might cause a higher probability of developing cervical cancer.

Delaying first sexual intercourse :

The younger a female is when she has her 1st sexual activity, the higher the chance of HPV infection. The longer she delays it, the lower her risk.

Stopping smoking :

Women who smoke and are infected with HPV have a higher risk of developing cervical cancer than those who don’t.

Cervical Cancer Diagnosis 

The earlier cervical cancer is diagnosed, the more successful treatment for it will be.

Women aged 30 years and over are suggested to undergo a daily Pap, or cervical smear, test, to find early signs of cancer of the uterus and cervix. HPV testing will be done at the same time.

Cervical smear test

In the U.S. over 11,000 ladies receive a diagnosis of invasive cervical cancer annually, and around 4,000 die as a result of this disease.

Most of these deaths can be prevented through regular cervical screening.

Screening doesn’t detect cancer, however, it looks for abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix. If left untreated, some abnormal cells will eventually be converted into cancer.

HPV DNA testing

This test Detect any type of HPV in DNA which Causes Cervical Cancer. It involves collecting cells from the cervix for laboratory testing.

The test will detect bad HPV strains in cell DNA before any cervix cell abnormalities appear.

If there are signs and symptoms of cervical cancer, or if the pap test reveals abnormal cells, further tests are also suggested.

These include:

Colposcopy : a visual examination of the vagina using a speculum and a colposcope, a lighted magnifying instrument.
Examination under anesthesia (EUA) : The doctor will examine the vagina and cervix more completely.

Biopsy : little section of tissue is taken under general anesthesia.

Cone biopsy : Small, Cone like part of the abnormal tissue is taken from the cervix for testing.

LLETZ : diathermy, using a wire loop with an electrical current, is used to remove abnormal tissue. The tissue is distributed to the laboratory to be checked.

Blood tests : A blood cell count will help identify liver or kidney issues.

CT scan : A barium liquid may be used to show up any abnormalities.

MRI : Special types of MRI may be able to determine cervical cancer in its early stages.

Pelvic ultrasound : High-frequency sound waves produce a picture of the target area on a monitor.

Cervical Cancer Stages

cervical cancer stages
cervical cancer pictures

The stage of any cancer refers to the extent to which it has spread within the body at the time of diagnosis.

Staging cancers is a very important part of determining the most effective treatment plan.

Staging of cancer is based on the tumor extent, spread to any lymph nodes, and distant spread.

Cancer is classified into stages from 0 to IV, with several subcategories within every numerical stage.

Cervical Cancer Stages are :

Stage 0 : precancerous cells are present.

Stage 1: Cancer cells have grownup from the surface into deeper tissues of the cervix,

and probably into the female internal reproductive organ (uterus) and to near lymph nodes.

Stage 2 : The cancer has is now on the far side the cervix and female internal reproductive organ (uterus), however not as far as the walls of the pelvis or the lower part of the vagina.

It may or might not have an effect on nearby lymph nodes.

Stage 3 : Cancer cells are present within the lower part of the vagina or the walls of the pelvis, and it should be block the ureters, the tubes that carry urine from the bladder.

It may or may not have an effect on nearby lymph nodes.

Stage 4 : The cancer affects the bladder or rectum and is growing out of the pelvis. it may or may not have an effect on the lymph nodes.

Later in stage four, it’ll spread to distant organs, together with the liver, bones, lungs, and lymph nodes.

Cervical Cancer Treatment

Treatment depends on many factors, like the stage of cancer, different health issues you’ll have and your preferences.

Surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or a combination of the 3 is also used.

Treatment For Early Stage Cervical Cancer

The early stage of cancer is easily treated with surgery by removing the uterus, however, removing the uterus makes it impossible to become pregnant.

Your doctor might recommend:

Simple hysterectomy :The cervix and uterus are removed together with cancer. simple hysterectomy is usually a choice only for very early-stage cervical cancer.

Radical hysterectomy : In this type of surgery, your doctor could remove the uterus, part of vaginal, lymph nodes and cervix.

Minimally invasive surgery could also be an option for early-stage cervical cancer.

If you are at the very early stage of cervical cancer, 

Trachelectomy treatment option is best for women who want to preserve their fertility.

In this treatment cancer is removed surgically without removing uterus and ovaries.

Treating Advanced Stage Cervical Cancer

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-powered energy beams, like X-rays or protons, to kill cancer cells.

It is also used alone or with chemotherapy before surgery to shrink a tumor or after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells.

Radiation therapy will be given:

♦ Externally, by guiding a radiation beam at the affected area of the body (external beam radiation therapy)

♦ Internally, by inserting a tool filled with radioactive material within your vagina, usually for only a few minutes (brachytherapy)

♦ Both externally and internally

Premenopausal ladies might stop menstruating and start menopause as a result of radiation therapy.

If you may wish to get pregnant after radiation treatment, ask your doctor about ways that to preserve your eggs before treatment starts.


Chemotherapy uses medicines, usually injected into a vein, to destroy cancer cells.

Low doses of chemotherapy are often mixed with radiation therapy as chemotherapy might enhance the outcomes of the radiation.

Higher doses of chemotherapy are used to control advanced cervical cancer that will not be curable.

Supportive (palliative) care

Palliative care is a specialized treatment that focuses on providing relief from pain and different symptoms of a serious health problem.

Palliative care specialists work with you, your family and your other doctors to provide an extra layer of support that enhances your ongoing care.

When palliative care is used with all of the other applicable treatments,

people with cancer might feel better and live longer.

Palliative care is provided by a team of doctors, nurses, and different specially trained professionals.

Palliative care teams aim to enhance the standard of life for people with cancer and their families.

This form of care is offered alongside curative or other treatments you’ll be receiving.

Clinical Trial

Participating in a clinical trial may be the best treatment option for some people.

Several of the current treatments that are offered are the results of clinical trials.

Clinical trials are an integral part of the cancer research method.

They are done to see how safe and effective new treatments are, whether they are better than existing ones.

People who participate in clinical trials are contributing to cancer research and innovation.

Survival Rate for Cervical Cancer By Stages

According to American Cancer Society, The 5 year survival rate for stage 0 is 93 %.

The 5 year survival rate for stage 1 & 2 are 86 and 60 percent respective. 

For Stage 3, 5 year survival rate is 33% and For Stage 4, 5 year survival rate is 15%.

Is cervical cancer contagious ?

No, cervical cancer is not contagious. it cannot be transferred from one person to other.


Reference :

American Cancer Society



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