Cervical cancer is the second most common malignancy in women worldwide, and remains a leading cause of cancer-related death for women in developing countries. In the United States, cervical cancer is relatively uncommon.
The incidence of invasive cervical cancer has declined steadily in the United States over the past few decades, but continues to rise in many developing countries. The change in the epidemiological trend in the United States has been attributed to mass screening with Papanicolaou (PAP) tests. Furthermore, cervical cancer is a preventable disease, primarily with newly approved human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines and secondarily through treatment of preinvasive disease.
Cervical cancer may not cause any symptoms at first, but later, you may have pelvic pain or bleeding from the vagina. It usually takes several years for normal cells in the cervix to turn into cancer cells. Your health care provider can find abnormal cells by doing a Pap test - examining cells from the cervix under a microscope. By getting regular Pap tests and pelvic exams you can find and treat changing cells before they turn into cancer.
The treatment of cervical cancer varies with the stage of the disease. For early invasive cancer, surgery is the treatment of choice. In more advanced cases, radiation combined with chemotherapy is the current standard of care. In patients with disseminated disease, chemotherapy or radiation provides symptom palliation.