Cervical cancer - symptoms and causes

Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix, the lower part of the uterus attached to the vagina.

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 cervical cancer

Cervical cancer - symptoms and causes

Various strains of human papillomavirus (HPV) and sexually transmitted infections play a role in causing most cases of cervical cancer.

When exposed to HPV, the body's immune system prevents the virus from doing damage. However, the virus survives for years in a small percentage of people and is involved in the transformation of some cervical cells into cancerous cells.

You can reduce your risk of cervical cancer by having screening tests and receiving a vaccine that protects against HPV infection.

Generally, early-stage cervical cancer causes no signs or symptoms.

More advanced cervical cancer signs and symptoms include:

Vaginal bleeding after intercourse, between menstrual cycles, or after menopause

Vaginal discharge that is watery and bloody, which may be copious and have a foul odor

Pelvic pain or pain during intercourse

When should you see a doctor?

Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you.

the reasons

Cervical cancer occurs when changes (mutations) in the DNA of cervical cells develop into the DNA. A cell's DNA contains instructions that tell the cell what to do.

Healthy cells grow and divide at a set rate and die at a set time. Mutations tell cells to grow and multiply out of control, and they don't die. 

The accumulating abnormal cells form a mass (tumor). Cancer cells invade nearby tissues and can break away from the tumor to spread (metastasize) to other places in the body.

There is no clear cause of cervical cancer, but HPV certainly plays a role. HPV is a very common virus, and the majority of people infected with this virus do not develop cancer. 

This means that other factors 

— such as your environment or lifestyle choices 

— also determine whether you develop cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer types

The process of determining what type of cervical cancer you have helps determine your prognosis and treatment. The main types of cervical cancer are:

Squamous cell carcinoma. This type of cervical cancer begins in the thin, flat cells (squamous cells) that line the outside of the cervix, which leads to the vagina. Most cervical cancers are squamous cell carcinomas.

glandular cancer; This type of cervical cancer begins in the column-shaped glandular cells that line the cervical canal.

Sometimes both types of cells are involved in cervical cancer. Rarely, cancer occurs in other cells in the cervix.

risk factors

Cervical cancer risk factors include:

Multiple sexual partners. 

The more sexual partners you have 

— and the more your partner has 

— the greater your chance of contracting HPV.

Early sexual activity. Having sex at an early age increases the risk of HPV infection.

Other types of sexually transmitted infections. 

Having other sexually transmitted infections 

— such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV/AIDS 

— increases your risk of developing HPV.

Weakened immune system. You may be more likely to develop cervical cancer if you have a weakened immune system due to another health condition and if you are infected with HPV.

smoking. There is a link between smoking and squamous cell carcinoma of the cervix.

Exposure to medications to prevent miscarriage. If your mother took a drug called diethylstilbesterol (DES) during pregnancy in the 1950s, you may have an increased risk of developing a specific type of cervical cancer called clear cell adenocarcinoma.


To reduce the risk of cervical cancer, you should:

Ask your doctor about HPV vaccinations. Receiving the vaccine to prevent human papillomavirus (HPV) infection may reduce the risk of cervical cancer and other HPV-related cancers. Ask your doctor if this HPV vaccine is right for you.

Perform Pap tests routinely. Pap tests can detect precancerous conditions of the cervix, so they can be monitored or treated to prevent cervical cancer. 

Most health organizations suggest routinely starting Pap tests at age 21, and repeating them every few years.

Practice safe sex. Reduce your risk of cervical cancer by taking measures to prevent sexually transmitted infections, such as using condoms every time and limiting multiple sex partners.

Refrain from smoking. If you don't smoke, don't smoke. If you already smoke, talk to your doctor about strategies to help you quit.

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