Cervical cancer is a malignant tumor located in the cervix, the lowest part of the uterus. Most cervical cancers are associated with the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection. Approximately 12,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with cervical cancer this year.
Screening for cervical cancer
Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers known today. In fact, most cases of cervical cancer can be avoided through early detection and treatment of precancerous cells. These cells can appear years before cervical cancer develops. Annual well-woman exams should include a Pap and HPV test to detect any abnormalities in the cells of the cervix.
Common cervical cancer risk factors
It is important to talk to your doctor to understand your personal risk factors for developing cervical cancer. The following reasons may increase a woman’s risk for developing cervical cancer:
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) – HPV is the most common risk factor for developing cervical cancer. Ask your doctor about the HPV vaccine to protect yourself from this infection.
- Immune system deficiency – Women with weak immune systems have a higher risk of developing cervical cancer. Immune suppression can be a result of cortisone medications, organ transplants, treatments for other types of cancer, or HIV (human immunodeficiency virus).
- Herpes – Women with genital herpes have a higher risk of developing cervical cancer.
- Smoking – Women who smoke are twice as likely to develop cervical cancer than women who do not smoke.
- Age – More than half of the women diagnosed with cervical cancer are between the ages of 35 and 55.
- Oral contraceptives – Though the reason for this connection is yet unknown, oral birth control pills may be associated with an increased risk of cervical cancer.
Signs and symptoms of cervical cancer
Often, cervical cancer does not have any symptoms in the early stages. As the cancer progresses, however, you may experience noticeable warning signs, including:
- Pelvic or lower back pain
- Abnormal bleeding
- Painful urination
- Unusual discharge
- Abnormal menstrual cycles
- Pain or bleeding post intercourse
- Urinary incontinence
If you experience any of these symptoms, the experienced physicians at Alpha Med Physicians Group recommend you see a medical professional immediately.
For skilled cervical cancer treatment in Tinley Park, Homewood, Palos Heights, and Illinois, call Alpha Med Physicians Group at 708-342-1900 to schedule an appointment.