Cervical cancer was once one of the most common causes of cancer death for American women. But over the last 40 years, deaths due to cervical cancer have decreased by more than 50%. Many cases can be discovered early through routine screening exams, which increase the likelihood of successful treatment.
Cancer in a woman’s cervix, the entrance to the uterus, tends to occur in midlife. Most cases are found in women younger than 50.
The most effective way to detect this cancer early is through screening tests for cervical cancer. Depending on your age, these may include a Pap test and a test for the human papillomavirus (HPV), which can be another early warning sign of cervical cancer. Your doctor will let you know which screenings you need and when depending on your age, lifestyle and medical history.
Should additional testing be needed, your doctor may recommend a colposcopy. This procedure is usually done in the doctor’s office, and involves looking at the cervix with magnification. Occasionally a biopsy is required to remove a small sample of tissue from the cervix so that it can be more closely examined under a microscope.
Treatment of cervical cancer depends on the stage of the cancer, or how far it has spread. Your Mercy care team will determine the most appropriate treatment options for you and coordinate your appointments with our specialists.
If cancer has not spread beyond the cervix, the most common treatment is surgery to remove the precancerous or early cancerous cells. Abnormal cells may be removed in several ways:
Radiation and chemotherapy may be used separately or together to treat cervical cancer that cannot be removed with surgery, or that has spread beyond the cervix to surrounding areas.
Cervical cancer can return after treatment unless the cervix is removed. If a woman does not plan to have children, a hysterectomy may be an option to ensure the cancer does not come back.
We understand that a cancer diagnosis can be frightening, and we’re here for you. Your Mercy care team is committed to providing the best possible treatment with compassion and support. It is our mission to care for you throughout this challenge and bring you back to good health.