Cervical Cancer

Frequently Asked Questions: Cervical Cancer

Here are some frequently asked questions related to cervical cancer.

Q: What causes cervical cancer?

A: We don’t always know what causes cervical cancer, just like we don’t know what causes most cancers. Not uncommonly however, this disease occurs when a virus or other factor causes cells within the cervix to become abnormal, then cancerous. Cervical cancer becomes invasive when malignant cells spread to nearby tissues, organs, or other parts of the body.

Q: Why do some women develop cervical cancer?

A: The primary risk factors associated with cervical cancer are age, a woman’s sexual habits, and infection with a high-risk strain of human papillomavirus (HPV). Lifestyle, race, and other factors probably affect a woman’s chances of developing cervical cancer.

Q: Can cervical cancer be prevented?

A: Routine Pap tests can detect almost all instances of early cervical cancer and precancerous (tending to become cancerous) changes in cervical cells. Prompt treatment of these abnormalities can prevent cervical cancer.

Q: How is cervical cancer diagnosed?

A: Routine screening for cervical abnormalities can detect early-stage cancer and precancerous conditions (that are not yet malignant).

Q: Why are regular Pap tests so important?

A: Cervical cancer grows slowly, and regular Pap tests can detect the disease in its earliest, most curable stages.

Q: Who should be screened for cervical cancer?

A: Every woman who has reached the age of 18 or who is or has been sexually active should have regular Pap tests.

Q: Is cervical cancer curable?

A: If caught in the early stages, cervical cancer is almost 100% curable. The chances of detecting cervical cancer at an early stage are greatly increased by having regular Pap smears. Pap smears are probably the most successful of all screening procedures ever devised to detect early cancer.

Q: How is cervical cancer treated?

A: The standard treatments for cervical cancer are surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.

Q: What is the emotional impact of cervical cancer?

A: Because cervical cancer treatment often leaves a woman infertile, this disease can be especially devastating for women of childbearing age. Friends, family members, and professional caregivers can provide valuable emotional support.

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