Facts About Cervical Cancer

What it is

Cervical cancer is a form of cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix—the opening of the uterus.1,2

Over several years, cells in or around the cervix can become abnormal and eventually turn cancerous. Cancer cells can form tumors and spread to other parts of the body.1,2

The early stages of cervical cancer often lack clear symptoms, but during this time some women experience unusual or unexplained bleeding after sex or between monthly periods. Watery discharge may also be present.1,2

In the advanced stages of cervical cancer, symptoms may include pelvic pain, pain while urinating, and having to urinate more often.1,2

Risk factors

A family history of cervical cancer, smoking, and being overweight are all factors that may put women at greater risk for cervical cancer, but the biggest risk factor is infection with certain types of the human papillomavirus (HPV).1,2

HPV is an infection transmitted by skin-to-skin contact and is relatively common among sexually active individuals. Many types of HPV will clear up without treatment, but there are some that are strongly associated with cervical cancer.1,2