Cervical cancer is a cancer that involves the lower part of the uterus (womb), which is known as the cervix. This can involve a microscopic lesion, that cannot be seen with the naked eye; or it can involve a larger area that is visible while performing a pelvic exam or during colposcopy.
Signs and symptoms can include bleeding after sexual intercourse, irregular vaginal bleeding, bleeding after menopause, abnormal vaginal discharge, and/or pain.
Risk factors for cervical cancer include: infection with certain types of human papilloma virus, and having diseases that lead to lower immunity (such as HIV). Smoking is also a risk factor.
A vaccine is available that can prevent infection with some of the high risk and low risk types of HPV. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends routine vaccination for boys and girls ages 11 or 12. Vaccination is also recommended for women 13 years through 26, and men ages 13 through 21. Routine screening with a pap smear or going for an annual gynecologic exam can help with the detection of early signs and symptoms of the disease, or the detection of pre-cancerous changes of the cervix. Practicing safe sex and smoking cessation are also some methods to reduce your risk.
Cervical cancer is diagnosed with a biopsy of the cervix. Prior to having a biopsy, there are abnormal results that can be encountered on a pap smear, that would require further testing or exams (such as colposcopy). There are also two types of procedures that can be performed if there is an abnormality detected with colposcopy and with biopsies, called a Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP) or a Cone biopsy of the cervix. These procedures can be diagnostic as well as therapeutic.
Treatment options for cervical cancer include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or a combination of these methods. If you would like to schedule an appointment with a physician in the Women’s Health Center, please call 718-291-3276.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.