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Cervical Cancer

Risk Factors, Screening and Diagnosis | Personalized Treatment | Additional Patient Support

Cervical cancer is cancer of the uterine cervix, the portion of the uterus attached to the top of the vagina. In its earliest stages cervical cancer is easily treatable and curable; therefore, routine pap smears for cervical cancer screening are very important. Human papilloma virus (HPV) has been shown to be the causative agent of most cervical cancers.

The experienced specialists at NorthShore Kellogg Cancer Center combine the most advanced scientific knowledge and technology with a collaborative, personalized approach to care. Drawing from the diverse experience of physicians, surgeons, nurses, researchers and a host of other highly trained healthcare professionals, the Kellogg Cancer Center team places patients—and families—at the center of a healthcare experience that delivers compassionate, quality care.

Cervical Cancer Screening, Diagnosis and Risk Factors

The following risk factors may make a woman more prone to developing cervical cancer:

  • Sexual intercourse at a very young age
  • Multiple sexual partners or having partners who have had multiple sexual partners
  • Infrequent pap smears
  • Prior pap smears showing precancerous cells
  • Human papilloma virus (HPV) infection

Cervical cancer symptoms may include persistent vaginal discharge and abnormal vaginal bleeding. Women with cervical cancer may not experience any symptoms. It is important to talk to your doctor about your risk factors and how often you should have a pap smear for cervical cancer screening.

A pap smear can help identify the possibility of cervical cancer, but it does not provide a definitive diagnosis. If a woman has an abnormal pap smear, she may undergo a colposcopy, which allows the physician to take a magnified look at the cervix to better determine if cervical pre-cancerous or cancerous cells are present. A biopsy of the cervix may be necessary.

If a diagnosis of cervical cancer is made, a variety of tests may be ordered. These tests, together with the results of the original tumor biopsy, help your physician determine the severity or stage of the cancer, which is in part based on whether it has spread to other areas of the body.

Personalized Cervical Cancer Treatment

With cervical cancer, if caught very early, the pre-cancerous or cancerous cells can be removed without affecting a woman’s ability to conceive a child.  However, if the disease has spread to other parts of the body, radiation therapy or the administration of chemotherapy may be necessary. Sometimes a radical hysterectomy, which involves the removal of the entire uterus, is necessary. In some circumstances, the ovaries and fallopian tubes may also be removed.

Your multidisciplinary team meets regularly in a multidisciplinary conference to discuss your case in detail and to design a personalized treatment plan. The team may include your medical oncologistsurgeon, radiation oncologist, geneticist, pathologist, nutritionist, pharmacist, interventional radiologist, social worker and researchers, all focused on you. This "meeting of the minds" provides critical input, resulting in an individualized cervical cancer treatment and care plan outlining the best course of action for your care.

Additional Patient Support

Kellogg Cancer Center’s unique services and resources assist patients and family members with a variety of challenges they may face from diagnosis, treatment and beyond. A wide array of support services are available to patients that include our integrative medicine services, financial advocacy and survivorship, to name a few.

For More Information

For more information on cervical cancer symptoms, screening and treatment or to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, please call 847.570.2639.