Doctor's Search

Cervical Cancer

December 22, 2014
  1. Cervical cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the cervix.

The cervix is the lower, narrow end of the uterus (the hollow, pear-shaped organ where a fetus grows). The cervix leads from the uterus to the vagina (birth canal).

Cervical cancer usually develops slowly over time. Before cancer appears in the cervix, the cells of the cervix go through changes known as dysplasia, in which cells that are not normal begin to appear in the cervical tissue. Later, cancer cells start to grow and spread more deeply into the cervix and to surrounding areas.

 

  1. Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is the major risk factor for development of cervical cancer.

Infection of the cervix with human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common cause of cervical cancer. Not all women with HPV infection, however, will develop cervical cancer. Women who do not regularly have a Pap smear to detect HPV or abnormal cells in the cervix are at increased risk of cervical cancer.

Other possible risk factors include the following:

  • Giving birth to many children.
  • Having many sexual partners.
  • Having first sexual intercourse at a young age.
  • Smoking cigarettes.
  • Weakened immune system.

 

  1. There are usually no noticeable signs of early cervical cancer but it can be detected early with yearly check-ups at Belize Medical Associates.

Early cervical cancer may not cause noticeable signs or symptoms. Women should have yearly check-ups, including a Pap smear to check for abnormal cells in the cervix. The prognosis (chance of recovery) is better when the cancer is found early.

These and other symptoms may be caused by cervical cancer. Other conditions may cause the same symptoms. A doctor should be consulted if any of the following problems occur:

  • Vaginal bleeding.
  • Unusual vaginal discharge.
  • Pelvic pain.
  • Pain during sexual intercourse.

 

  1. The following procedures may be used to detect (find) and diagnose cervical cancer:
  • Pap smear: A procedure to collect cells from the surface of the cervix and vagina. A piece of cotton, a brush, or a small wooden stick is used to gently scrape cells from the cervix and vagina. The cells are viewed under a microscope to find out if they are abnormal. This procedure is also called a Pap test.
  • Colposcopy: A procedure to look inside the vagina and cervix for abnormal areas. A colposcope is a microscope used to visualize the cervix. Tissue samples may be taken for biopsy.

 

These tests can all be done at Belize Medical Associates, 5791 St. Thomas Street, Belize City, Belize C.A. Tel: 223-0302/03/04.