Cervical Cancer Symptoms & Treatment


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Cervical cancer occurs after abnormal cells grow out of control on the cervix – the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina.



  • Squamous cell carcinoma – begins in the lining of the outer part of the cervix. Most cervical cancers are squamous cell carcinomas
  • Adenocarcinoma – begins in cells that line the cervical canal

Causes & Risk Factors

  • Human papillomavirus, or HPV, which can be sexually transmitted
  • Early sexual activity
  • Other sexually transmitted infections
  • A weak immune system
  • Smoking


  • Vaginal bleeding between regular menstrual periods or after menopause
  • Bleeding after sexual intercourse or a pelvic exam
  • Abnormal menstrual periods
  • Vaginal discharge between periods or after menopause
  • Pelvic pain or pain during intercourse


  • Abnormal pap test results
  • Physical exam
  • HPV test
  • Colposcopy – magnifies cells of the cervix and vagina
  • Biopsy
  • Imaging
    • X-rays
    • Ultrasound
    • Computed tomography (CT scan)
    • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
    • Positron emission tomography (PET scan)


  • Surgery
    • Conization – a cone-shaped piece of tissue is removed from the cervix to diagnose cancer or remove abnormal cells
    • Hysterectomy –  removal of the uterus and cervix
    • Radical hysterectomy – removal of the uterus, cervix, upper vagina and adjacent tissue
    • Trachelectomy – removal of the cervix and upper part of the vagina to preserve fertility
    • Pelvic exenteration – similar to a radical hysterectomy, but performed to treat recurrent cervical cancer.  The bladder, vagina, rectum and part of the colon also may be removed.
    • Pelvic lymph node dissection – removal of pelvic lymph nodes adjacent to the cervix to evaluate disease spread and treatment planning. It is performed with a radical hysterectomy.
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy

Clinical Trials

Patients have the unique opportunity to participate in clinical trials that involve medications as well as gene and cell therapy often unavailable outside of research settings. Learn more >

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