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Mercy's gynecologic oncologists and team are committed to providing the best possible cervical cancer care with compassion and support. Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer is often curable if it’s found at an early stage. But the longer it goes undetected, the more difficult it becomes to treat. If it spreads to distant organs in the body, the chances of a cure decrease significantly.
Like all other cancers, cervical cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body if undetected or untreated. Cancer is always named for the place in the body where it originates. So, if cervical cancer spreads to the liver, you don’t have liver cancer, but rather cervical cancer in the liver.
Yes. HPV is not the only cause of cervical cancer. A number of other risk factors can determine your overall risk of developing cervical cancer. These include, for instance, your history of smoking and whether you have had an HIV infection.
Unfortunately, early cervical cancers usually have no clear warning signs. Symptoms don’t often begin to show until the cancer becomes larger and spreads to nearby organs or tissue. Painful symptoms can include abnormal vaginal bleeding, heavy periods and pain in or around your pelvic region.
It can take years for precancerous changes in the cervix to morph into cervical cancer. Since no two people have the same body type, there’s no general rule of thumb for how long this can take. However, it’s especially important for women to have routine Pap tests so that cancerous changes are detected as soon as possible.
If you have cervical cancer, your ability to get pregnant depends largely on what treatment type you receive. Early-stage cervical cancer can usually be treated in ways that preserve your ability to carry a child to term. However, if your treatment involves a hysterectomy, for instance, you will not be able to get pregnant afterward.
Yes, but it’s generally uncommon. For most women who undergo a hysterectomy the risk of developing cancer or recurrence of cancer is low. That’s why it’s important to schedule annual screenings to catch any abnormalities before they spread.
The stages of cervical cancer refer to how far it’s spread throughout the body. Cervical cancer stages range from I to IV, with I being less severe and IV being more severe. As a general rule, the more your cancer has spread, the harder it will be to cure.
Pap tests are the best way to screen for cervical cancer and catch it early.
Learn about preventive screening