What is cervical cancer?

Dr Morris and Patient

Cervical cancer forms on the cervix, the lower part of the uterus that connects the vagina.

Cervical Cancer - Signs and Symptoms

Women usually do not have symptoms during the early stages of cervical cancer. The most common signs and symptoms of cervical cancer are:

  • Irregular vaginal bleeding, including between periods, after sex and after menopause
  • Pelvic or back pain
  • Pain during intercourse

Who can get cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer typically develops in women between the ages of 30 and 50, but this disease is not exclusive to that age group.

We have come a long way in preventing cervical cancer and catching it early. According to the American Cancer Society, cervical cancer was once one of the most common causes of cancer death among women. Though that death rate has dropped with increasing screening options, the rate has not changed in the last decade. Each year, about more than 14,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer and more than 4,000 die from the disease.

Prevention & Early Detection

Early detection is one of the most powerful weapons in the fight against cervical cancer. Symptoms of cervical cancer are rare during the early stages. That’s why routine human papillomavirus (HPV) and papanicolaou testing (Pap test) Pap testing is important. In Flint, making an appointment with your McLaren primary care physician or gynecologist is the first step of prevention.

Need a new primary care physician or gynecologist? View a list of specialists who are accepting new patients within four weeks or less.

Who should be screened?

Generally, women between the ages of 21 and 29 should have a Pap test every three years. Women between the ages of 30 and 65 should have a Pap test and an HPV test every five years or a Pap test alone every three years. Women age 65 and older who have had regular screenings and normal results can cease screening.

What is a Pap test?

  • A Papanicolaou test (Pap test) is used to find cell changes or abnormal cells in the cervix.
  • Cells are swapped from the cervix then sent to a lab and examined for irregularities. The Pap test finds cancer cells and cells that could become cancerous in the future.

What is an HPV test?

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a very common sexually-transmitted virus that usually goes away on its own. However, it can sometimes lead to cervical cancer.
  • An HPV test checks for the presence of the virus using a swab of the cervix.

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What if I develop cervical cancer?

Gynecologic cancer treatment, such as cervical cancer, is overseen at Karmanos Cancer Institute at McLaren Flint by a team of board-certified gynecologic oncologists who lead in their field.

Need a Gynecologic Oncologist? Meet the Team

    • Image of John Wallbillich , M.D.

      John Wallbillich, M.D.

      Oncology - Gynecologic, Oncology - Surgical