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Patient Education: Diseases Conditions Treatments & Procedures

Cervical cancer

Introduction

Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers that affect a woman's reproductive organs. Various strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection, play a role in causing most cases of cervical cancer.

When exposed to HPV, a woman's immune system typically prevents the virus from doing harm. In a small group of women, however, the virus survives for years before it eventually converts some cells on the surface of the cervix into cancer cells.

Early cervical cancer generally produces no signs or symptoms. As the cancer progresses, these cervical cancer symptoms and signs may appear:

  • Vaginal bleeding after intercourse, between periods or after menopause
  • Watery, bloody vaginal discharge that may be heavy and have a foul odor
  • Pelvic pain or pain during intercourse