It is estimated that about 10,800 new cases of HPV-associated cervical cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year (CDC). At one time it was one of the most common causes of cancer death for American women. Since 1955, the number of deaths from cervical cancer has declined in numbers. The reason for the declining numbers is the amount of women getting regular Pap tests and finding and treating the cervical pre-cancer before it turns to cancer. Most cervical cancers can be prevented by avoiding the risk factors and treating any signs of pre-cancer.
The cervix is a part of the reproductive system of the body. It is the lower part of the uterus or womb. It is made up of two parts, the upper part called the body of the uterus where the baby grows and the lower part or birth canal that connects the body of the uterus to the vagina.
Cancer of the cervix begins in the lining. It is a slow forming cancer. The cells change from normal to pre-cancer to cancer. The changes that take place are referred to as dysplasia. For some women the changes may go away without any treatment. Most of the time, they need to be treated to keep them from changing to cancer. Most early cervical cancer has no symptoms. Continuous vaginal discharge may occur and be pale, watery, pink, brown, bloody, or foul-smelling. Vaginal bleeding between periods, after intercourse or after menopause may be experienced. Symptoms of advanced cervical cancer may include loss of appetite, weight loss, fatigue, pelvic pain, back pain, leg pain, single swollen leg, heavy bleeding from the vagina, leaking of urine or feces from the vagina, and bone fractures. Even though there are usually no signs of cervical cancer, it can be detected with annual check-ups (Pap smears).
There are two main types of cancer of the cervix. About 80% to 90% are squamous cell carcinomas. It is a cancer that arises from flat squamous cells. It can spread to the liver and lungs. The other 10%-20% are...