What is Cervical Cancer?

Cervical cancer is a disease in which cancer cells grow in the cervix, the tissue that connects the uterus to the vagina.

Cervical cancer is slow in developing, so a powerfully important preventive measure is Pap test screening, AKA getting a pap smear, a procedure during which cells are gently scraped from the surface of the cervix and sent to a laboratory to be examined. The Pap test can detect cancer at an early stage, when treatment outcomes tend to be better, as well as detect precancerous cells, which can then be treated to prevent them from developing into cancers.


What Causes Cervical Cancer?

According to The American Association for Cancer Research, “HPV is almost always the cause of cervical cancer, which is why vaccines against the virus are an important part of cervical cancer prevention strategies.”

There are those for and against the vaccines for HPV, so educating yourself and talking with your doctor are both very important steps in making the decision to vaccinate yourself or your teen.


What are the Symptoms of Cervical Cancer?

As mentioned above, cervical cancer is slow developing, so symptoms may not show for some time. Some common symptoms that can occur:

  • You may have watery, unusual or heavy vaginal discharge.
  • You might bleed between your periods or after having sex.
  • Your periods may be heavier and longer than usual.
  • You may have bleeding after menopause.
  • You may experience pain during sex or have pain in the pelvic area from engaging in other activities.

Other conditions have similar symptoms. If you are experiencing any of the above, you should see your doctor to get a clear diagnosis of what might be going on.

Want to learn more? Visit Cervical Health Awareness Month – NCCC (nccc-online.org)

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