When it comes to diagnosing and treating cervical cancer, you want gynecologic oncology leaders by your side.

At the Saint John’s Cancer Institute, personalized care is our top priority as we help you beat cervical cancer using the best of Western mainstream treatments as well as integrative holistic support.

The cervix is the lowest part of the uterus, connecting the vagina and uterus. Cervical cancer is mostly found in sexually active women, most commonly due to the HPV or Human Papillomavirus. Cervical pre-cancer or cancer can be detected using PAP smear screening and treated with surgery, chemotherapy or radiation.

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Causes of Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) in combination with various other factors like smoking. As such it is a sexually transmitted disease.

Sign and Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of Cervical Cancer

Early stages of cervical cancer tend to not produce signs or symptoms so it is important to have regular pelvic exams and screening with PAP smears and HPV testing.

  • Bleeding after intercourse
  • Pelvic pain
  • Pain with sexual intercourse
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge, bleeding or odor
Two doctors speaking in the hallway of JWCI

Diagnosis of Cervical Cancer

Ideally early diagnosis means finding cervical pre-cancer on PAP smear screening. A colposcopy may also be performed in which a medical provider looks at the cervix using a special microscope that can detect any visual abnormalities. A biopsy may also be performed in an abnormal looking area to determine if there is cancer present.

Cervical Cancer Stages

Staging determines where the cancer is located and if it has spread. Cervical cancer stages are as follows:

  • Stage I: The cancer has spread from the cervix lining into the deeper tissue but is still just found in the uterus. It has not spread to lymph nodes or other parts of the body.
  • Stage II: The cancer has spread beyond the cervix to nearby areas, such as the vagina or tissue near the cervix, but it is still inside the pelvic area. It has not spread to lymph nodes or other parts of the body.
  • Stage III: The tumor has spread to the pelvic wall, and/or involves the lower third of the vagina, and/or causes swelling of the kidney, called hydronephrosis, or stops a kidney from functioning. No lymph nodes are involved, and there is no distant spread.
  • Stage IVA: The cancer has spread to the bladder or rectum and may or may not have spread to the lymph nodes, but it has not spread to other parts of the body.
  • Stage IVB: The cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
  • Recurrent: Recurrent cancer is cancer that has come back after treatment. If the cancer does return, there will be another round of tests to learn about the extent of the recurrence. These tests and scans are often similar to those done at the time of the original diagnosis.
Risk Factors

Risk Factors of Cervical Cancer

  • HPV: The Human Papillomavirus is the most common cause of cervical cancer. Vaccination against HPV has dramatically decreased the incidence of cervical cancer.
  • Sex at age younger than 16 years old: Women started sexual activity at a younger age are more likely to have a greater number of lifetime sexual partners.
  • Multiple sexual partners: Increases the rates of transmission of HPV.
  • Smoking: Chemicals found in cigarettes alter cells of the cervix, which can ultimately contribute to cancer.

Treatment of Cervical Cancer

Treatment typically includes surgery, chemotherapy, biological targeted therapy or radiation, or a combination of these depending on the stage. Surgical intervention at the Saint John’s Cancer Institute utilizes cutting-edge minimally invasive robotic-assisted technology. Fertility-sparing surgery is also available.

Follow Up

Follow up includes repeat exams and PAP smears to detect recurrence. Sometimes imaging is recommend as well. We provide advice to help you reduce the risk of recurrence using nutrition and lifestyle choices.

When to See a Provider

Submit an online appointment request or call 310-829-8402 with a doctor if you have any persistent signs and symptoms that concern you.