Miami Cancer Institute ’s gynecologic cancer specialists combine medical expertise and compassionate care to provide the best treatment options for our patients. Our cervical cancer specialists have access to a range of cutting-edge technologies as well as weekly, multidisciplinary tumor boards where our gynecologic experts can collaborate on treatment plans. Ultimately, your care team aims to give personalized care that helps address your individual needs and effectively treats your specific type of cancer.
Your care team consists of renowned cancer physicians that provide advanced whole-patient care. Each individualized plan includes innovative treatments as well as services to address your entire journey as a patient, including nutritional advice, physical rehabilitation and pain management services. Not only do we focus on the treatment that is right for your type of cervical cancer, we focus on the treatment that is right for you as an individual.
What is cervical cancer?
Cervical cancer is a disease in which cancerous (malignant) cells form in the tissue of the cervix. Most cervical cancers start in the cervix transformation zone, which is located at the point where the inner and outer part of the cervix meet.
The cervix is the narrow end of the uterus that leads into the vagina.
What are the types of cervical cancer?
The three main types of cervical cancer are:
- Squamous cell carcinoma - This is the most common type of cervical cancer. They typically form on the outer part of the cervix closest to the uterus.
- Adenocarcinoma - This type of cancer starts in the mucus-producing gland cells that line the inner part of the cervix closest to the uterus (endocervix).
- Adenosquamous carcinoma - The rarest form of cervical cancer, it has both adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma cell types.
What are the risk factors for cervical cancer?
By far the most common risk factor for cervical cancer is infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV). In fact, more than 90 percent of cervical cancers are caused by HPV infection.
You can contract HPV by coming in contact with the mouth, genitals or anus of an infected person. Unfortunately, other than genital warts, there is no way of knowing whether a sexual partner has HPV.
Other risk factors for developing cervical cancer include:
- Being exposed to diethylstilbestrol (DES).
- Using oral contraceptives for a long time.
- Being infected with HIV.
- Giving birth to many children (three or more).
- Having many sexual partners.
- Having sex at an early age.
What can you do to prevent cervical cancer?
There is no guaranteed way to prevent cancer. However, because most cervical cancers are caused by infection with HPV, you can reduce your risk for cervical cancer by using protection (such as a condom) during sex and limiting the number of sexual partners you have.
Condoms cannot provide complete protection against HPV, but they can significantly lower your risk of infection.
You can also lower your risk with the HPV vaccine. This vaccine targets the types of HPV that cause roughly 70 percent of cervical cancers. It is not meant for women who are already infected with HPV. Ask your doctor about the vaccine and whether it’s something that is safe for you to receive.
Stopping smoking may also reduce your risk for cervical cancer.
The pap test has proven to be one of the single best cervical cancer screening methods developed to date.
Is cervical cancer screening available?
Getting regular pelvic exams and Pap tests with your doctor can help find early signs of cervical cancer. These exams check for abnormal cells in the cervix that are precancerous. If abnormal cells are found (cervical dysplasia), you and your doctor will work together on follow-up tests and screenings to check for cancer.
During a Pap smear, your doctor inserts a lubricated instrument into the vagina to widen the opening. Then, he or she will gently scrape your cervix to collect a sample of mucus. The mucus is sent to a lab where a pathologist checks for abnormal cells or signs of cancer.
In some cases, your doctor may place the tissue sample into a special liquid before it is sent to the lab. This is known as a liquid-based cytology.
It’s important to talk to your doctor about the right time is to start regular cervical cancer screenings. How often you have screenings will depend on your risk factors, medical history, and whether you’ve had an abnormal Pap result in the past.