Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer occurs when abnormal cells on the cervix grow out of control. Your cervix is the lower part of your uterus that opens into your vagina.

In the United States, Hispanic women are most likely to get cervical cancer, followed by African-Americans, Asians and Pacific Islanders, and whites, according to the American Cancer Society. Cervical pre-cancers are diagnosed far more often than invasive cervical cancer, which is diagnosed in about 13,170 women each year.

Cervical cancer is most common in women over 30 but can occur at any age. It’s highly preventable and treatable through HPV vaccination and regular well-woman screening.

Our Premier Health board-certified gynecologic oncologists specialize in cancers of female reproductive organs and will guide you through every step of diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up care.

Detection And Prevention

Cervical cancer  typically occurs in women who are, or have been, sexually active. It’s most likely to occur if you have, or have had, the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is transmitted through sexual contact.

Here’s how you can reduce your risk for developing cervical cancer:

  • Get a well-woman check every year
  • Get vaccinated for HPV
  • Get regular Pap tests (screenings)
  • Use condoms during sex
  • Limit your number of sexual partners
  • Don’t smoke

HPV (human papillomavirus) Vaccine

Premier Health recommends that females and males 9 to 45 years old receive the HPV vaccine. The vaccine is most effective when given to girls and boys ages 11 to 12. At this age, the vaccine requires two doses. After age 15, three doses are required.

If you’re under 45 and have never been vaccinated for HPV, consider getting the vaccine after discussing with your health care provider.

The HPV vaccine prevents cervical cancer,  anal cancer, vaginal cancervulvar cancer,and anal and genital warts associated with certain HPV types. The vaccine may also reduce the risk of other HPV-related cancers, including mouth and throat cancers and penile cancer.

Pap Test 

The Pap test has long been the gold standard for cervical cancer screening. It can find changes in your cervix that can be treated before they become cancer. It can also find cervical cancer early, when it’s highly treatable. You should still get regular cervical cancer screenings even if you’ve had the HPV vaccine, since the vaccine doesn’t protect against all causes of cervical cancer.

For women of average risk, Premier Health recommends the following:

  • Age 21 to 29: Pap test every three years
  • Age 30 to 64: Pap test every three years*
  • Age 65 or older: Talk to your health care provider
  • Women who’ve had a hysterectomy: Talk to your health care provider

* Ask your doctor about the latest guidelines for this age group. An HPV test may also be an option for you.

Finding cervical cancer early, when it’s most treatable, is your best defense. Talk to your health care provider about screening at an earlier age, additional tests, or more frequent testing if you have any of these cervical cancer risk factors:

  • History of HIV
  • A condition that compromises your immunity
  • Persistent HPV infection after age 30
  • History of severe cervical dysplasia

Eligible uninsured or underinsured women in Southwest Ohio may qualify for free Pap tests through our Breast and Cervical Cancer Project.

Cervical Cancer Symptoms 

Early on, cervical cancer usually has no symptoms. As the cancer grows, these symptoms may occur: 

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Bleeding between regular menstrual periods
  • Bleeding after sexual intercourse, douching, or a pelvic exam
  • Periods that are longer and heavier than in the past
  • Postmenopausal bleeding
  • Increased vaginal discharge
  • Pelvic pain
  • Pain during sex

Diagnosis

Cervical cancer diagnosis involves a combination of investigative methods that help us understand your specific cancer and plan treatment. These may include a pelvic exam, Pap test, cervical tissue biopsy, and varied advanced imaging tools.

A cervical tissue biopsy is a procedure that removes a small tissue sample from your cervix to check for cancer cells.

Treatment

We’ll consider the type, size, and stage of your cervical cancer, plus your age, overall health, and desire to have children, to recommend one or more of the following treatment strategies:

  • Surgery to remove the primary (main) cancer tumor or other tumors
  • Chemotherapy/radiation therapy to kill or stop the growth or spread of cancer cells
  • Chemotherapy/radiation therapy to prevent or delay your cancer's return
  • Symptom management for pain or other cancer-related symptoms

At Premier Health, our team has extensive experience in cervical cancer treatment. A common treatment for cancers that have not metastasized (spread) is hysterectomy and removal of pelvic lymph nodes, with or without removal of both ovaries and fallopian tubes. However, a hysterectomy isn’t always needed, especially if your cancer is found very early.

For more advanced stages of cancer, surgery often is part of an effective treatment plan, along with continuously advancing medical therapies and/or radiation therapy – all highly customized to fight your specific cancer. 

After cervical cancer treatment, we’ll continue to monitor your recovery through follow-up exams and testing.

Keeping You Safe During COVID-19

You will find new safety measures in place when you schedule appointments and come to our facilities — all with the goal of keeping you safe as we care for you.

Contact Us

Our cancer team is here for you. Our cancer specialists have access to nationally recognized cancer care protocols and best practices, since Premier Health is a certified member of MD Anderson Cancer Network®, a program of MD Anderson Cancer Center. Our patients benefit from advanced local care backed by the world-renowned expertise of the nation’s leading cancer center. 

Call the Premier Health cancer hotline at (844) 316-HOPE(844) 316-4673 (4673), Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., to connect with a Premier Health cancer navigator.