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Cervical cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow on the lining of cervix located in the lower part of the uterus (womb) in the female reproductive system. Cervical cancer forms slowly over time showing little or no symptoms, but is easily detected from regular Pap tests and is usually cured if found early.
Cervical cancer symptoms do not usually occur. Some women may notice the following symptoms:
- Abnormal bleeding between menstrual periods, after sexual intercourse or after menopause.
- Pelvic pain.
- Pain during sex (intercourse).
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, consult a MemorialCare Physician partner.
Risk Factors & Prevention
Women are at a greater risk for cervical cancer if you:
- Have a Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection – a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
- Smoke or are exposed to smoke.
- Have a weakened immune system, for example, from HIV infection.
- Miss regular Pap tests.
- Have many sexual partners.
- Use birth control pills for a long time.
- Have many children.
- Were exposed to diethylstilbestrol (DES) before you were born.
Several controllable risk factors such as infection with Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) - a sexually transmitted disease (STD), smoking and a weak immune system can increase the risk of cervical cancer. By controlling risk factors and having regular Pap tests performed, you can help prevent cervical cancer.
Pap test screening recommendations:
- 21-29 years of age - annual Pap test or three years after sexual activity begins.
- 30-39 years of age - women who have had three normal Pap test results in a row, may be screened every two to three years.
- 40-49 years of age - women who have had three normal Pap test results in a row, may be screened every two to three years.
- 50 years of age or older - women who have had three normal Pap test results in a row, may be screened every two to three years.
Follow Up Care
Women Guiding Women - peer support