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Cervical Cancer: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Raina Rahul Agarwal 3 Sep, 2022 Disease No Comments
Cervical Cancer


Cervical Cancer is the fourth most common cancer found in women. In 2018 it was estimated that about 5,70,000 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer worldwide. It has also been estimated that approx 3,11,000 women died due to cervical cancer.

Cervical Cancer develops in women’s cervix (The cervix connects the vagina to the upper parts of the uterus). Almost all cervical cancer is associated with the Human Papillomaviruses (HPV) infection. HPV is a widespread virus which transmits through sexual contact.

Cervical Cancer

What Is Cervical Cancer

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 Human Papillomavirus take part in transmitting cervical cancer by sexually contact. When cells changes in women’s cervix then cervical cancer occurs. It may affect the deeper tissue of the cervix and may spread to other parts of the body. Usually, cervical cancer takes time to find out disease because it grows slowly.

What Is Cervix

It is the lowest part of the uterus, where a baby grows during pregnancy. The structure of the cervix is like a doughnut shape. It connects the uterus to the opening of the vagina. It is made up of cells and covered with tissues. It is also known as the “neck of the womb”. It allows the fluids to pass between the uterus and vagina. The cervix helps the baby to leave the uterus so that it can travel through the vagina (birth canal) while childbirth.

Types Of Cervical Cancer

There are mainly two types of cervical cancer:

Squamous Cell Carcinoma: About 80-90% of cervical cancer are squamous cell carcinoma.

Adenocarcinomas: Approx 10-20% of cervical cancer are adenocarcinoma.

What Causes Cervical Cancer

Most cases of cervical cancer are linked to infection of HPV ( Human Papilloma Virus) same virus that causes genital warts.HPV leads through sexual contact and can lead to cancer. Cervical cancer begins when unusual changes occur in the tissue. There are 100 different types of HPV and only certain types of HPV cause cervical cancer in women. The two most common types of HPV are HPV- 16 and HPV-18 which commonly cause cancer.

Human Papillomavirus also causes other cancer in men and women except for cervical cancer, these cancers are:

  • Vulvar Cancer
  • Vaginal Cancer
  • Penile Cancer
  • Rectal Cancer
  • Anal Cancer
  • Throat Cancer

What Are the Cervical Cancer Risk Factors

People might be at higher risk of cervical cancer if they

  • Started having sex before 16 or within a year of starting period.
  • Have multiple sexual partners
  • Smoke Cigarettes
  • Have a weakened immune system
  • Have a sexually transmitted disease.
  • Take birth control longer than 5 years.

What Are The Symptoms & Signs Of Cervical Cancer

Cervical Cancer

The early stage of cervical cancer is hard to detect. It usually doesn’t involve symptoms until the final stage. When signs do appear they’re easily mistaken for common conditions like menstrual periods and urinary tract infections. The first stage of symptoms takes time to develop.

  • Sign of cervical cancer in the first stage:
  • Watery or bloody vaginal discharge which has also a foul odour.
  • Vaginal bleeding after intercourse, during the menstrual period or after menopause.
  • The menstrual period may be heavier.

What Are The Treatments Of Cervical Cancer:

Cervical cancer treatment should be treated by a Gynecologic oncologist i.e a doctor who specialized in the treatment of cancer of the female reproductive organs. Cervical cancer is treatable if you find it at the early stages of the disease. The four main treatments are:

  1. Surgery
  2. Radiation Therapy
  3. Chemotherapy
  4. Targeted Therapy


In the surgery, doctors can remove as much cancer as possible. Sometimes doctor removes only the area of the cervix that contains cancer cells. For cancer that is more prevalent, surgery may involve removing the cervix and other organs in the pelvis. Different kinds of surgery are used to treat cervical cancer:

  • Laser Surgery
  • Cryo Surgery
  • Cone Biopsy
  • Trachelectomy
  • Pelvic Exenteration
  • Simple Hysterectomy
  • Radical Hysterectomy with pelvic lymph node dissection

Radiation Therapy:

In radiation therapy, high-energy x-ray beams are used to kill cancer cells. A machine is used to deliver these x-ray beams. It can also deliver inside the body using a metal tube in the uterus and vagina.  There are two types of radiation therapy are used to kill cancer cells:

External Beam Radiation: It aims high-powered radiation at cancer from a machine outside your body.

Brachytherapy: In Brachytherapy, radiation is used in or near cancer.


In chemotherapy, doctors use a drug that is injected through a vein or taken orally to kill cancer. Drugs enter the blood and it is effective to kill cells anywhere in the body. Doctors give chemotherapy in cycles. The schedule of the chemotherapy depends upon the drug used and where the cancer is located.

Targeted Therapy:

Targeted therapy destroys cancer cells without damaging healthy cells. Target therapy works by targeting proteins that control how cancer cells grow and spread. Bevacizumab (Avastin) is a new drug that works in a different way from chemotherapy. This drug blocks the growth of new blood vessels that help cancer grow and survive. This drug is often given alongside chemotherapy.


Medicine which is used in immunotherapy stimulates the immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells.

Frequently Asked Questions

Que: Where does cervical cancer spread first?
Ans: The most common places for cervical cancer to spread are the lymph nodes, liver, lungs and bones.

Que: Can a woman spread cervical cancer to a man?
Ans: A woman cannot spread cervical cancer to a man because cervical cancer is not infectious and contagious. Cervical cancer is linked to human Papillomavirus (HPV), a virus that is a risk factor for cervical cancer and is transmitted during sex.

Que: What is the vaccine against cervical cancer?
Ans: Gardasil 9 is an HPV vaccine against cervical cancer. It is a vaccine approved by the U.S Food & Drug Administration. This vaccine can prevent most cases of cervical cancer if the vaccine is given before girls and women are exposed to the virus.

Que: How can we prevent cervical cancer?
Ans: It can be prevented by having regular screening with Pap tests and Human Papillomavirus test to find precancers and treat them.

Que: Who gets cervical cancer?
Ans: All women are at risk for cervical cancer. Cervical cancer occurs most often in women aged over 30.


All the content of this article is for information purposes only


Raina Rahul Agarwal

A Non-Medical Scientist, BSL-2 Lab, Mirzapur

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