Cervical cancer affects women of all ages and develops slowly from abnormal cell changes in the cervix. Cervical screening tests can detect these changes before cancer has a chance to develop or cause any symptoms.
> Symptoms and risk factors
Early abnormalities picked up by cervical screening tests will not usually produce symptoms. In later stages of cervical cancer, common symptoms include heavier periods than normal and vaginal bleeding between periods, after sex, or after the menopause.
The main risk factor for cervical cancer is the human papilloma virus (HPV), a common infection which can cause the abnormal cell changes in the cervix that may lead to cervical cancer. HPV spreads from person to person during sex, but vaccines can be used to prevent infection.
If you have symptoms of cervical cancer, we will typically carry out a colposcopy that looks at abnormalities in the cervix with a microscope. We will also perform a biopsy to check for cancer in any abnormal cells.
The treatment we offer will depend very much on a range of factors, including the stage and size of the cervical cancer, your general health and whether you have been through the menopause or want to get pregnant in the future.
Treatment options for cervical cancer include surgery to remove all of the cancer and radiotherapy, chemotherapy and immunotherapy to destroy the cancer cells. Sometimes we offer these treatments in combination.