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What is cervical cancer?
Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that is found in a woman’s cervix. The cervix sometimes referred to as the neck of the womb connects a woman’s womb to her vagina. In the UK, 3,200 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year.* This type of cancer is more common in younger women, more than half of the cases of cervical cancer each year are found in women under the age of 45.**
What causes cervical cancer?
The main causes of cervical cancer are the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). HPV is a group of common viruses, that can be passed on via any kind of sexual activity or intercourse. Using condoms can lower your risk of getting the sexually transmitted infection (STI) however the infection is caused by skin to skin contact with the wider genital area and a condom will not fully cover the genitalia. Other strains of HPV can cause genital warts, having this STI does not mean that you have cancer.
Most women will come into contact with the HPV infection in their lifetime, however there are many strains of HPV and not all of them are harmful.
There is no treatment for HPV virus itself, only its effects so vaccinating can protect against certain harmful strains of the virus. Women and men can have the HPV vaccine at any time, although it’s most effective before you become sexually active. For discreet, free advice on whether it’s suitable for you, visit LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor’s HPV Vaccine Clinic.
What are the signs of cervical cancer?
Many women will not notice any signs that they have cervical cancer; sometimes the symptoms are not obvious and can be overlooked. Cervical cancer may not be noticeable until it has reached an advanced stage, which is why it is important to attend all of your cervical screenings. Consult our cervical cancer symptoms guide for more information.
How do you treat cervical cancer?
The treatment for cervical cancer depends upon how far the cancer has spread and what stage it has reached. Cancer treatments are often complex and hospitals always aim to tailor the treatments to the individual. To find out more about the treatments available for cervical cancer read our treatment guide.
A cervical screening test detects abnormal cells within your cervix. If you have an abnormal test result it does not mean that you have cancer and if precancerous cells present they can be detected and treated early by routine smear tests.
Smoking tobacco increases your risk of getting cervical cancer*, the more you smoke and the younger you start smoking also affect your chances of developing cancer.
1 in every 10 cases of cervical cancer is linked to taking the contraceptive pill*. However just because you are on the contraceptive pill does not necessarily mean that you will develop cancer.