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What is Cervical Cancer?
Cancer that starts in the cervix is called cervical cancer. It is most often caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). HPV can be passed from one person to another by skin-to-skin primarily in sexual activity. Infection with HPV is very common, and most men and women have been exposed to the virus through sexual contact, even if they have had sex only once. Cervical cancer can be prevented with the HPV vaccine. Early detection is usually possible by following recommended Pap smear and HPV testing guidelines.
What are the symptoms of cervical cancer?
- Irregular vaginal bleeding
- Vaginal bleeding during and/or after sex
- Pelvic pain
- Abnormal vaginal discharge
- Changes to bowel and bladder habits (i.e., urinary frequency)
What are the risk factors for cervical cancer?
- Human papilloma virus infection
- Being sexually active at a young age
- Having many sexual partners
- Weakened immune system (HIV positive, transplant patient)
- Smoking cigarettes
What are the preventative measures against cervical cancer?
- HPV vaccination
- No smoking
- Appropriately timed Pap smear and HPV testing
- Safer sexual practices
What should be discussed with my OBGYN?
- Concerning symptoms such as bleeding with sex, bleeding between periods, and pelvic pain.
- Ask if the HPV vaccine is an option.
- Ask how frequently Pap smear and HPV testing should be done.
- If any abnormalities are found on pelvic exam, what further testing is needed.
- Ask to receive a copy of your Pap smear result and understand the recommended follow up.
What are the treatment options for cervical cancer?
Women who have been diagnosed with or who have suspected cervical cancer should be referred to a gynecologic oncologist for further evaluation to determine the optimal treatment option.
Cervical cancer may be treated with surgery, radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy. Our UCLA doctors are dedicated to providing patients with individualized care. Depending on your age, the stage, size and location of your cancer, our expert team may use a combination of treatments in caring for you and your cancer.
Cancer Support Resources
The UCLA Simms Mann Center for Integrative Oncology is our cancer support center. Our Simms Mann Center provides free mental health resources for cancer survivors. If you are having trouble finding help, please let your cancer team know so we can assist you in finding you the care you need. For more information about the UCLA Simms Mann Center for Integrative Oncology, visit the website.
UCLA’s Division of Gynecologic Oncology offers a comprehensive and growing survivorship program for our patients. For more information, please ask your provider for details or visit our webpage. We also have available our Cervical Cancer Survivorship Pamphlet (PDF) as a resource for you and your family.