Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix — the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina.
Various strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection, play a role in causing most cervical cancer.
When exposed to HPV, the body’s immune system typically prevents the virus from doing harm. In a small percentage of people, however, the virus survives for years, contributing to the process that causes some cervical cells to become cancer cells.
You can reduce your risk of developing cervical cancer by having screening tests and receiving a vaccine that protects against HPV infection.
- Squamous cell carcinoma. This forms in the lining of your cervix. It’s found in up to 90% of cases.
- Adenocarcinoma. This forms in the cells that produce mucus.
- Mixed carcinoma. This has features of the two other types.
- Pain when you have sex
- Unusual vaginal bleeding, such as after sex, between periods, after menopause, or after a pelvic exam
- Unusual vaginal discharge
After it has spread, the cancer can cause:
- Pelvic pain
- Trouble peeing
- Swollen legs
- Kidney failure
- Bone pain
- Weight loss and lack of appetite
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