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Cervical Cancer Resources
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Cervical Cancer

Cervical Cancer

The cervix is the opening to the uterus that enlarges during labor to allow the baby to progress from the uterus to the birth canal. Before cervical cancer develops, it's normally preceded by the appearance of abnormal cells, which can be detected with a simple Pap smear. This means that cervical cancer is much less of a threat to women than it was in the past. Today, cervical cancer can almost always be prevented through regular Pap smears and by receiving the HPV vaccine.

What are the symptoms of cervical cancer?
Abnormal bleeding or other discharge or pelvic pain can be symptoms of advanced cervical cancer. These symptoms are much more likely to be caused by something besides cancer, so a visit to your doctor is needed.

How is cervical cancer diagnosed?
The Pap smear is the usual first test to uncover problems. The next step is typically an examination with a colposcopy, which is an instrument that allows your doctor to take a close look at your cervix. If an abnormal area shows up, a biopsy of that area will be taken and examined for the presence of cancer. In many cases, the biopsy will be the only treatment needed.

What are the treatments for cervical cancer?
A common treatment for precancerous changes to the cervix and early cancers is conization, in which a cone-shaped piece of tissue is removed from the cervix. Cryosurgery (freezing), laser surgery and Loop Electrocautery Excision Procedure (LEEP) are also used. If the woman has not received regular Pap smears or for any other reasons the cancer is advanced when it is detected, more aggressive treatments such as hysterectomy, chemotherapy or radiation may be used.

What are the risk factors for cervical cancer?
The risk of developing precancerous cells on the cervix that may progress to cervical cancer can be lessened by steps like not smoking and with appropriate condom use. Getting regular Pap smears also greatly reduces the risk of developing invasive cervical cancer.

What are some additional resources for learning about cervical cancer?
If you or your loved one is facing cervical cancer, CalvertHealth has a whole range of services designed to help you so you never take this journey alone. Please talk to your CalvertHealth provider or your Nurse Navigator, or check the service pages for information about treatments, services and support groups.
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