Living with Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is cancer of the cervix, the lower portion of the uterus that connects to the vagina. There are two types of cervical cancer: cervical squamous cell carcinomas are the most common (80-90%) and originate in the surface cells of the cervix; the other 10-20% of cases are cervical adenocarcinomas, which originate in the gland cells of the cervix. Only about 12,000 new cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year, and the five-year survival rate is above 70%.

Nearly all cervical cancers are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV), which is detectable through screenings administered during regular gynecological visits. Young women are encouraged to get the HPV vaccine. Other risk factors include smoking, a compromised immune system, Chlamydia infection, long-term use of oral contraceptives, and multiple (3 or more) pregnancies. Symptoms include: heavy or watery vaginal discharge; heavy or prolonged periods; and vaginal bleeding after intercourse, between menstrual periods, or post-menopause. The stages of cervical cancer range from zero to IV, depending on how widely the cancer may have spread. Cervical cancer treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or a combination of these.

For more information on cervical cancer, read the American Cancer Society's detailed guide.

If you have been affected by cervical cancer, please be sure to take some time to read others' experiences, share your own experiences, and ask or answer questions. Don't forget to view our Beginner's Guide to Cancer.

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