of Cervical Cancer
Early-stage cervical cancer generally produces no signs or symptoms, however symptoms of more advanced cervical cancer may include:
- Vaginal bleeding after intercourse.
- Vaginal bleeding between periods or after menopause
- Watery, bloody vaginal discharge that may be heavy and have a foul odor
- Pelvic pain or pain during intercourse
Cervical cancer begins when healthy cells acquire a genetic change (mutation) that causes them to turn into abnormal cells. Although it isn’t clear what causes cervical cancer the human papilloma virus (HPV) clearly plays a role.
The type of cervical cancer helps determine the prognosis and treatment. The main types of cervical cancer are:
- Squamous cell carcinoma begins in the thin, flat cells (squamous cells) lining the outer part of the cervix, which projects into the vagina.
- Adenocarcinoma begins in the column-shaped glandular cells that line the cervical canal.
Risk factors for cervical cancer include:
- Human Papilloma Virus
- Multiple sexual partners. The greater the number of sexual partners the greater the greater your chance of acquiring HPV.
- Early sexual activity. Having sex at an early age increases the risk of HPV.
- A weak immune system. Individuals are more likely to develop cervical cancer if their immune system is weakened by another health condition and infection with HPV.
- Smoking. Smoking is associated with squamous cell cervical cancer.1,2
1 American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2012.
2 National Cancer Institute Fact Sheet. Human Papillomaviruses and Cancer: Questions and Answers.