Women's Services Encyclopedia
Cervical and Uterine Cancer
The opening of the uterus (womb) is a short muscular tube known as the cervix. The cervix is visible to the doctor during a pelvic (speculum) examination. Cancer of the uterus and cervix were at one time the most common causes of cancer related death in women.
Risk Factors for Cervical Cancer include:
- Lower socioeconomic groups
- History of infection with Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) — acquired through sexual contact
- History of early onset of sexual activity
- History of multiple sexual partners
Risk Factors for Uterine Cancer include:
- Most cases occur in women between the ages of 55-65
- History of infertility
- History of failure to ovulate
- Late menopause
- Prolonged estrogen therapy after menopause
A symptom common to uterine cancer is vaginal bleeding after the onset of menopause (more than 6 months after the complete cessation of your periods). Post-coital bleeding is perhaps the only symptom of early cervical cancer.
Regular evaluation and a yearly PAP smear are most important in the detection of cervical and uterine cancers. The PAP smear is a simple,
painless test, where the examiner brushes off the surface of the cervix with a wooden spatula (similar to a popsicle stick). The cells from this specimen
are analyzed under a microscope for the possible presence of cancer cells.
After a woman has had three or more consecutive annual examinations, the PAP
test may be performed less frequently at the discretion of her physician.
Treatment of cervical cancer depends on PAP smear findings.
- Many women in their 30s can have abnormal PAP results that indicate a precancerous condition (carcinoma in situ). In this case,
treatment is by localized removal of the tissue by laser, electrocautery, or cryosurgery. Some cases may be followed
by radiation therapy to the area, to ensure that any abnormal cells that may have spread to adjacent structures have been destroyed.
- Older females, and those who menopausal, may elect to have a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus and cervix).
More advanced forms of the disease, involving distant spread, generally receive some combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and
- Uterine cancer is usually treated surgically with removal of the uterus and fallopian tubes. The ovaries
may be removed, depending on the patient’s age. Chemotherapy is often used in combination with surgery.
- If diagnosed early, the 5 year survival rate (those patients that will live at least 5 years after the time
of diagnosis) is approximately 81% for cervical cancer and 88% for uterine cancer. A Gynecology physician or Gynecologyl Oncologist
are the experts in the treatment of this problem.
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