Cervical Cancer

What Is Cervical Cancer?


Cervix is the narrow part of the lower uterus that opens into the vagina. It is often referred to as the neck of the womb.
Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal or mutated cells in any part of the body.
Cervical Cancer
When the cells in the cervix become malicious and start growing in an uncontrolled way, resulting in a lump or tumour then this condition is termed as Cervical Cancer.

Anatomy Of Cervical


What Are The General Symptoms Of Cervical Cancer?

In most cases, Cervical cell abnormality rarely causes any notable early symptoms. But with the passage of time as the Cancer spreads and grows following symptoms can be spotted:

What Are The General Causes Of Cervical Cancer?

There are many types of the HPV virus. Not all types of HPV cause Cervical Cancer. Some of them cause genital warts, but other types may not cause any symptoms.

Can Cervical Cancer Be Prevented?

Some of the causes of Cervical Cancer are known while some causes are yet under the veil. So we have a few precautionary measures that might help in avoiding the disease.

As the most prevalent cause of Cervical Cancer is HPV virus, getting HPV vaccination before the age of 26 comes as a precautionary measure.
Going through a Pap test is the best way to find Cervical cell changes that can lead to Cervical Cancer. Most women are advised to get a Pap test starting at age 21.
Regular Pap tests almost always show these cell changes before they turn into Cancer. This may help prevent Cervical Cancer.

Practicing safe sex using condoms/protection; limiting the number of sex partners.

What Is A Pap Smear Test?

Pap Smear Test:

A Pap smear test is a microscopic examination of cells taken from the uterine cervix. It tests for the presence of preCancerous or Cancerous cells on the cervix. Having regular Pap tests is the best way for women to protect themselves against Cervical Cancer. A Pap test looks for changes to the cells of the cervix that, if left untreated for a number of years, could develop into Cancer.

A Pap test is conducted to detect certain viral infections or abnormal cells, which is known to cause Cervical Cancer. Early treatment of preCancerous changes detected on the Pap smear helps in stopping Cervical Cancer before it fully develops.  Pap tests are very accurate, and regular Pap screenings reduce Cervical Cancer rates and mortality by 80 percent.

The incidence of Cancer and deaths from Cervical Cancer has significantly declined over the years because of prevention, screening, and early detection by the Pap smear. Most abnormal Pap smear results indicate the early stages of the disease.

Preparing for Pap test
On the day of the Pap test, it is highly suggested to stay as relaxed as possible as this will help ensure any physical discomfort is kept to a minimum. For most accurate results of the Pap test one must ensure that:
Procedure for Pap Smear Test

Result of Pap Smear Test

The result of the test is either normal i.e. negative or abnormal i.e. positive.

Normal Pap smear: It means that no abnormal cells were identified and there is no need of a Pap smear for another three years.

Abnormal Pap smear: Abnormal doesn’t necessarily signify the presence of Cancer. Rather, it might indicate the presence of abnormal cells or inflammation of cells on the cervix, some of which could be preCancerous. There are several levels of abnormal cells:

How often the Pap Smear Test needs to be done?

PapScreen Victoria recommends all women aged 18 to 70 who have ever been sexually active have a Pap test every two years. Sexual activity includes genital-skin to genital-skin contact, not just intercourse. This is why even if you are a virgin you may still need to have Pap tests.

Age Sexual Status Frequency
<21 Inactive Not needed
<21 Active every 3 years
21-29 Active/Inactive every 3 years
30-65 Active/Inactive 3-5 years
>65 Active/Inactive Not needed

What Are The Stages Of Cervical Cancer?

Cervical Cancer is staged using the TNM system of staging.

Survival Rates Of Cervical Cancer?

The statistics for 5 year survival rate are as follows:
Stage of Cancer 5 year Survival Rate
Stage I 95%
Stage II 50%
Stage III 40%
Stage IV 5%

Survival rate speaks about the general statistics based on the outcome of large groups of patients. However, these survival rates can’t precisely predict the outcome or prognosis of any individual case. A number of factors like age, health and family record etc., play a vital role in determining an individual’s survival rate.

Cervical Cancer is highly curable when detected at an early stage and the chances gradually decline with each passing stage and may prove to be fatal if waited till the last stage. However, it might bring some relief to know that most cases of Cervical Cancer are detected at an early stage through Pap test.

Can Cervical Cancer Be Detected Early?

The good thing is that Cervical Cancer can be found at a very early stage through a Pap test.

Pap test

In a pap test, a small sample of cells is scraped from the surface of the cervix to look for cell changes.

Pelvic examination

In this examination, the patient’s uterus, vagina, ovaries, fallopian tubes, cervix, bladder, and rectum are checked thoroughly for any unusual changes.


Sometimes a pap test is followed by a biopsy to confirm the presence of Cervical Cancer.

Some other tests to detect Cancer are:

What Are The Treatments Available?

Cervical Cancer can often be successfully treated when it’s found early. Treatment options depend on several factors including:

The treatment for most stages of Cervical Cancer includes:
How Frequently Should One Visit Doctor For Early Diagnosis?

It is highly recommended to visit the doctor and take a Pap test before the age of 21. If one is detected with Cervical Cancer then the regular sessions as recommended by the doctor should not be skipped!


How Can I As A Patient Know It Early?

As mentioned time and again, go for the Pap test and don’t let this health hazard skip your notice.