Cervical cancer, also called cervical carcinoma, develops from abnormal cells on the surface of the cervix (McKesson Clinical...). The cervix connects the vagina and the uterus. During birth, the cervix dilates and allows a baby to pass from the womb to the birth canal (Hixson, 37). Sadly, cervical cancer used to be the common cause of cancer deaths in women, but fatalities greatly reduced since the development of the Pap smear in the 1930s (American Cancer...). Early diagnosis and treatment of cervical cancer may increase the possibility of pregnancy.
Even though it is unknown why cancer happens in some people and not in others, heredity seems to have an effect in some forms of cancer. Because of this, family history may be significant in predicting and diagnosing cancer. Risk factors include: age, race, ethnicity, human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, smoking, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, diet, oral contraceptives, low socioeconomic status, and diethylstilbestrol (American Cancer...). Other risk factors include if an abnormal Pap smear was performed, or the patient or her sexual partner has ever had a genital wart virus infection. Also if the patient has had many sexual partners or began having intercourse before the age of 18, the patients partner has had a previous partner who had cervical cancer or abnormal cervical cells, and the patients sexual partner has or had cancer of the penis (McKesson Clinical...). Having regular Pap tests done to detect HPV infection and precancerous cells also helps prevent cervical cancer because most cases of cervical cancer are found in woman who haven't had regular Pap tests (Hixson, 37).
Some women may be genetically predisposed to cervical cancer. A 1999 study reviewed the health records of 127,000 relatives of 75,500 women with cervical cancer, tracking mothers and daughters and differentiating between biological and adoptive relatives. The study found a risk for cervical cancer among women in a family. The study also indicated that women are at risk for cervical cancer at a younger age if their mother or a sister had the disease (Peterson).
In its early stages, the presence of cervical cancer may not create any noticeable symptoms. As the cancer progresses, the woman may experience a watery vaginal discharge and painless bleeding. Over time, the bleeding becomes heavier and more frequent, and pain becomes noticeable in the lower abdomen or back. The best tool for diagnosing cervical cancer is the Pap smear. In this...