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Cervical Cancer Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment and Risk Factors

  • Symptoms: Symptoms of cervical cancer may include abnormal vaginal bleeding, an unexpected change in your menstrual cycle, pain during sexual intercourse, or vaginal discharge that contains blood.
  • Diagnosis: As part of your annual gynecological examination, your gynecologist will perform a Pap test. Your doctor will look for abnormal cervical cells or other changes. If your doctor finds abnormal cervical cells, other tests may be needed to confirm a diagnosis, such as a biopsy to remove cervical tissue to test for cancer cells.
  • Treatment: Treatment options for cervical cancer may include a hysterectomy, other types of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. If your cervical cancer is caught early, you may still be able to have children once you have completed treatment. Some treatments, however, render you unable to have children.
  • Risk Factors: Most cervical cancers are caused by the human papillomavirus, or HPV. Women can contract HPV by having sexual contact with someone who has it. Not all types of HPV cause cervical cancer. Once infected with HPV, women may show no symptoms and may develop cervical cancer years after being infected. Regular Pap tests can help your gynecologist detect abnormal cervical cells or cervical cancer at an early stage. Other risk factors include having sex before age 16, having more than one sexual partner, smoking, and having an impaired immune system.
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