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Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is when there is abnormal cell growth that begins in the lower part of a woman’s uterus (the cervix). Most cervical cancer is caused by spread of the human papillomavirus, or HPV.

Cervical cancer: what you should know

  • If caught early, your doctor can successfully treat cervical cancer. By having regular Pap tests and HPV tests, your doctor can test for early signs of this disease.
  • Women who are 26 and younger may opt to have a vaccine to help protect against cervical cancer. The Centers for Disease Control advises that boys and girls begin getting vaccinated around 11 or 12.
  • You can get HPV, which often leads to cervical cancer, through sex. Reduce your HPV risk by using latex condoms and limiting your number of sexual partners.
  • Smoking increases your risk of getting cervical cancer. 

How can I get help for cervical cancer?

Call your primary care doctor or OB-GYN if you have cervical cancer symptoms (which may be a sign of a less serious problem) such as unusual vaginal discharge and bleeding.

Also talk to your primary care doctor or OB-GYN if you need the following:

  • Pap test: to look for abnormal cells on the cervix
  • HPV test
  • HPV vaccination

Care for cervical cancer at Rush

To confirm diagnosis and remove abnormal cells, your doctor may perform a colposcopy. During this procedure, your doctor will check the vagina and cervix, and remove tissue samples. Samples are then evaluated under a microscope for signs of disease.

Or your doctor may opt to perform a procedure called conization or cone biopsy to evaluate and remove tissue or cells.

If necessary, your doctor will recommend you see a gynecologic cancer specialist. Treatment for cervical cancer depends on stage, but it may include the following (alone or in combination):

During treatment, you can also explore services offered through the Integrative Medicine Program at Rush. The program offers complementary therapies that can enhance cancer treatments by reducing the mental and physical stresses. The program offers acupuncture, biofeedback, guided imagery, counseling, massage therapy, yoga and more.

Why choose Rush for cervical cancer care

  • Primary care doctors at Rush, including OB-GYNs, check women for signs of cervical cancer and can give HPV vaccinations. They also provide support for those who want to quit smoking, which is a risk factor for cervical cancer.
  • The gynecologic cancer program at Rush was among the first in the region to fight cervical cancer with a team approach. Patients see multiple cancer specialists and receive a personalized treatment plan.
  • As a principal member of the National Cancer Institute’s Gynecology Oncology Group, Rush is at the leading edge of gynecologic cancer care and research.
  • The Rush University Cancer Center has been awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award from the American College of Surgeons' Commission on Cancer. ­Rush has received this award, which is given every three years, each time it has been evaluated by the Commission on Cancer.
  • Gynecologic oncologists and OB-GYNs at Rush are specially trained to use robotic surgery (da Vinci) to treat certain kinds of cervical cancer.

Departments and programs that treat this condition