The cervix is lower most part of the uterus which appears as a small, narrow opening projecting into the top most area of the vagina. Cancer occurs when cells making up the cervix begin to grow out of control. In the majority of cases, chronic (long-term) human papillomavirus (HPV) infection causes cervical cancer.
Women between the ages of 35 and 44 are most likely to develop this condition, although cervical cancer may occur in anyone. Regular screenings, including Pap smears and/or HPV testing, are the best way to identify issues early. The earlier your doctor finds this condition, the more likely you are to recover fully.
Cervical cancer cases have decreased by more than 50 percent in the United States since 1975. Today, regular screenings and other prevention strategies make cervical cancer one of the most preventable forms of cancer. Thanks to these techniques, rates of cervical cancer continue to decrease in the United States.
Why Choose Englewood Health for Cervical Cancer Care?
The specialists at The Lefcourt Family Cancer Treatment and Wellness Center at Englewood Health understand how overwhelming a cancer diagnosis can be. We offer compassionate, personalized care from diagnosis to recovery, helping you maintain your quality of life as you heal. When you come to Englewood Health for gynecologic cancer treatment, you benefit from our:
- World-renowned gynecologic cancer expertise, delivered by a team of board-certified, award winning-specialists
- Precision diagnostic tests performed and analyzed in-house, so you don’t have to wait for answers
- Gynecologic tumor conferences, which bring specialists from multiple medical disciplines together to discuss your diagnosis and treatment plan
- Innovative treatment options, such as interstitial brachytherapy, which are unavailable at other regional health care centers
- More than 20 years’ experience in bloodless medicine and surgery, which helps you avoid blood transfusions during treatment
- Extensive experience performing minimally invasive robotic surgery when appropriate, which helps avoid complications and promotes faster healing
- Holistic healing programs, managed by one of our own gynecologists, offered at the Graf Center for Integrative Medicine
Cervical Cancer Risk Factors
While the exact causes are unclear, doctors have linked HPV infection to the development of cervical cancer. Several different types of HPV occur naturally, and most are nonharmful. However, certain strains of HPV are more likely to cause normal cervical cells to develop into cancer so it’s important to be tested regularly.
Most women infected with HPV clear the infection on their own without medical treatment. But some women experience chronic, or long-term, infections. Long-term infection with harmful HPV strains increases your likelihood for developing cervical cancer.
Other risk factors may include:
- Early sexual activity
- Exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES) during fetal development
- Many sexual partners
- Sexually transmitted infections
- Weakened immune system
Cervical Cancer Symptoms
In its earlier stages, cervical cancer often causes no noticeable symptoms. As the disease progresses, certain symptoms are more likely, including:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding, especially after intercourse
- Bloody, watery vaginal discharge which may have a foul odor
- Pelvic pain
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Urinary frequency or painful urination
If you experience any symptoms of cervical cancer, let your doctor know immediately. Early diagnosis may help make treatment more effective and gives you the best chance at recovery.
Supportive Services for Cervical Cancer
We understand how concerning a gynecologic cancer diagnosis can be. Our patient support programs, offered by The Lefcourt Family Cancer Treatment and Wellness Center at Englewood Health, help you maintain your quality of life. We work as a team to help you manage stress and anxiety during all phases of your treatment.
Some types of gynecologic cancers are more likely to occur among family members. If an assessment of a gynecologic tumor indicates possible genetic factors, we offer genetic counseling through our risk-assessment program.
One of our own gynecologists oversees the Graf Center for Integrative Medicine. We use complementary therapies to boost your health and overall wellness, including acupuncture, massage therapy, and meditation.
Eating a diet rich in nutrients helps your body battle gynecologic cancer and stay strong during treatment. Our registered dietitians design an eating plan based around your personal preferences.
You may experience certain side effects during your treatment that make you feel unwell. Our palliative medicine specialists help you manage unpleasant symptoms so you can continue to receive the most effective treatments.
Our patient navigators are with you from day one. We help you get more information, manage your medical appointments, and communicate clearly with your health care team. Our dedicated patient navigators also help by:
- Connecting you with community resources outside Englewood Health
- Scheduling many of your appointments
- Providing emotional support
Sometimes, it helps to talk with people who know exactly what you’re going through. Our support services team connects you with resources outside Englewood Health for the most assistance possible. Anyone can benefit from these support groups, including patients, family members, and caregivers.
Your Cervical Cancer Treatment Team
Gynecologic cancers are often complex, and it takes a team to effectively diagnose and treat these conditions. Our team meets regularly to discuss challenging cases and plan personalized treatments most likely to help you recover.
We’ve organized the way we provide care so that you access all your doctors at the same time, during the same visit, in one convenient location. When you visit, you’ll meet with specialists from several medical disciplines, such as:
- Gynecologic oncologists, who specialize in diagnosing and treating gynecologic cancers
- Gynecologists, who use their knowledge of the female reproductive system to help plan treatment
- Medical oncologists, who manage cancers using drug therapies
- Pathologists, who analyze tumor tissue samples for evidence of cancer
- Radiation oncologists, who plan and perform radiation therapy