Cervical Cancer

Posted September 15, 2022 by Anusha ‐ 3 min read

Cervical cancer happens when cells change in women’s cervix, which connects the uterus and vagina. This cancer can affect the deeper tissues of their cervix and may spread to other parts of their body (metastasize), often the lungs, liver, bladder, vagina, and rectum.

Causes of Cervical Cancer

  • Cervical cancer begins with unusual changes in your tissue.

  • Most cases are linked to infection with HPV. Different types of HPV can cause skin warts, genital warts, and other skin disorders.

  • Others are linked to cancers involving the vulva, vagina, penis, anus, tongue, and tonsils.

Symptoms of Cervical Cancer

You might not notice symptoms of cervical cancer until it’s far along. They may include:

  • Pain when you have sex

  • Unusual vaginal bleeding, such as after sex, between periods, after menopause, or after a pelvic exam

  • Unusual vaginal discharge

After it has spread, the cancer can cause:

  • Pelvic pain

  • Trouble peeing

  • Swollen legs

  • Kidney failure

  • Bone pain

  • Weight loss and lack of appetite

  • Fatigue

Diagnosis of Cervical Cancer

  • A chest X-ray to check your lungs

  • Blood tests to see whether it’s spread to your liver; you might have a CT scan to refine the results

  • An intravenous pyelogram (IVP) or CT scan to look at your urinary tract; a cystoscopy can check your bladder and urethra

  • A colposcopy to look at your vagina

  • A proctosigmoidoscopy and barium enema to check your rectum

  • CT, MRI, or PET scans of your lymph nodes

Treatment of Cervical Cancer

Radiation therapy

  • Radiation therapy (or radiotherapy) uses high-energy rays to damage cancer cells and stop their growth.

  • As with surgery, the radiation affects cancer cells only in the treated area.

  • Your treatments might be external, internal, or both.

External radiation

  • External radiation comes from a large machine that aims a beam of radiation at your pelvis.

  • You’ll probably get treatments, which take only a few minutes, 5 days a week for 5 to 6 weeks.

  • Finally, you may have an extra dose of radiation called a boost.

Internal radiation

  • Internal radiation (also called implant radiation or brachytherapy) comes from a capsule containing radioactive material, which your doctor puts into your cervix.

  • The implant puts cancer-killing rays close to the tumor while sparing most of the healthy tissue around it.


  • Chemotherapy uses powerful drugs to kill cancer cells.

  • Doctors often use it for cervical cancer that’s locally advanced or has spread to other parts of the body.

  • Chemotherapy happens in cycles of intensive treatment followed by recovery periods.

  • Most people have it as an outpatient (in an outpatient clinic at the hospital, at the doctor’s office, or at home).

Biological therapy

  • Biological therapy or immunotherapy targets checkpoints in your immune cells that are turned on or off to set off an immune response.

  • Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) or tisotumab vedotin-tftv (Tivdak) can be used to help block a protein on the cells to shrink tumors or slow their growth.

  • Doctors use it if chemo isn’t working or if the cancer has spread.

  • You’ll get it through a vein (called intravenous, or IV) every 3 weeks.

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