Cervical cancer is the rapid growth of abnormal cells on the cervix. Fortunately, when detected at an early stage, cervical cancer is highly curable. Regular pap tests are the most important tool for preventing cervical cancer because it can detect abnormal cell changes before they become cancerous.
Most cervical cancer is caused by a virus called human papillomavirus, or HPV. You can get HPV by having sexual contact with someone who has it. There are many types of the HPV virus and not all types cause cervical cancer. Some of them cause genital warts, but other types may not cause any symptoms.
You can have HPV for years and not know it. It stays in your body and can lead to cervical cancer years after you were infected. This is why it is important for you to have regular Pap tests.
Abnormal cervical cell changes rarely cause symptoms. But you may have symptoms if those cell changes grow into cervical cancer. Symptoms of cervical cancer may include:
Cervical Cancer Diagnosis
During a Pap test the doctor scrapes a small sample of cells from the surface of the cervix to look for cell changes. If a Pap test shows abnormal cell changes, your doctor may do other tests to look for precancerous or cancer cells on your cervix.
Tests to confirm a diagnosis of cervical cancer include:
Tests to determine the extent (stage) of cervical cancer include:
Ovarian cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow in one or both of your ovaries. Ovarian cancer is often cured when it is caught early. But often, it has already spread by the time it is found. This particular gynecological cancer is relatively rare; fewer than 22,000 women were diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2010.
Experts do not know exactly what causes ovarian cancer. But they do know that DNA changes play a role in many cancers.
You have a higher chance of developing ovarian cancer if you:
The most common symptoms of ovarian cancer include:
If you have one or more of these symptoms, and it occurs almost daily for more than two or three weeks, talk with your doctor.
These symptoms are common for some women, and they may not mean that you have ovarian cancer. But the early symptoms of ovarian cancer follow a specific pattern:
There are no reliable screening tests for ovarian cancer.
Some initial exams and tests are done before surgery if ovarian cancer is suspected. These tests include:
More tests may be done before surgery to determine if other areas of the body are involved. These tests include:
Uterine cancer is the rapid and uncontrolled growth of cells in the endometrium, the lining of the uterus. It usually occurs in women older than 50. The good news is that it is usually cured when it is found early. And most of the time, the cancer is found in its earliest stage, before it has spread outside the uterus.
The most common cause of uterine cancer is having too much of the hormone estrogen compared to the hormone progesterone in the body. This hormone imbalance causes the lining of the uterus to get thicker and thicker. If the lining builds up and stays that way, then cancer cells can start to grow.
Women who have this hormone imbalance over time may be more likely to get endometrial cancer after age 50. This hormone imbalance can happen if a woman:
The most common symptoms of uterine cancer include:
Most cases of uterine cancer are diagnosed in an early stage, when women who have reached menopause go to their doctors when they have vaginal bleeding. Your doctor will conduct a pelvic exam and Pap test to check your symptoms.
An endometrial biopsy is needed to confirm a diagnosis of endometrial cancer. A biopsy removes a small sample of the lining of the uterus (endometrium) for examination under a microscope.
Additional tests may include: