Symptoms and Signs of Cervical Cancer

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 9/29/2021

Doctor's Notes on Cervical Cancer

The cervix is a 4 cm long bottle-neck-like end of the uterus. Cervical cancer occurs when the cells of the surface of cervix start to grow abnormally. Cervical cancer cells can also spread (metastasize) to other organs and tissues in the body, commonly the regional lymph nodes, lungs, liver, bladder, vagina, and/or rectum. Infection with human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common cause of cervical cancer. Other risk factors for cervical cancer include a family history of cervical cancer, early sexual contact, multiple sexual partners, smoking, HIV infection and a weakened immune system, being overweight/obese, and taking oral contraceptives (birth control pills).

There may be no symptoms of cervical cancer in the early stages. Once the cervical cancer has progressed, symptoms may include

What Is the Treatment for Cervical Cancer?

Treatments for cervical cancer depends on the stage of the cancer and if it has spread to other parts of the body. Treatments for cervical cancer may include one or more of the following:

  • Surgery 
    • For pre-cancer: 
      • Ablation with cold temperatures (cryosurgery) or a laser 
      • Excisional surgery (conization) 
    • For invasive cervical cancer:
    • Lymph node removal
  • Radiation therapy 
    • External beam radiation
    • Brachytherapy (internal radiation therapy)
  • Chemotherapy (“chemo”)
    • For cervical cancer that has come back or spread to other areas:
  • Chemoradiation, which is chemotherapy given along with radiation to help it work better
  • Targeted therapy 
  • Immunotherapy

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.