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Care For Yourself - Information for the Public - Cervical Cancer

Cervical Cancer Facts

An estimated 12,170 cases of invasive cervical cancer are expected to occur among women in the United States in 2012 and 4,220 deaths are expected. In Iowa, in 2012, approximately 105 cases of cervical cancer will be diagnosed and about 35 women will die from this disease.

Cervical Cancer Risk Factors

  • Infection with the Human Papillomavirus (HPV).
  • Sexual intercourse onset at an early age.
  • Many sexual partners.
  • Being a cigarette smoker.
  • Having a compromised immune system.
  • Long term use of oral contraceptives.
  • High number of childbirths.

Cervical Cancer Symptoms

It is important to see your health care provider if you have any of these symptoms.

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding.
  • Bleeding that starts and stops between regular menstrual periods.
  • Menstrual bleeding that is heavier or that may last longer than usual.
  • Bleeding after sexual intercourse.
  • Bleeding after a pelvic exam.
  • Bleeding after menopause.
  • Increased vaginal discharge.

Fortunately, most cervical cancers develop slowly, so they can be prevented, if a woman is screened at recommended intervals.

Cervical Cancer Early Detection and Prevention

Early detection could save your life. In addition to preventing cancer, cervical screening can detect cancer early, when treatment is most successful. There are two vaccines approved for the prevention of the most common types of HPV infection that cause cervical cancer. Gardisil is recommended for use in females and males 9-26 years of age. Cervarix is approved for females 9-25 years of age. These vaccines cannot protect against established infections, nor do they protect against all HPV types.

  • Have cervical screening at recommended intervals based on your medical history.
  • Participate in age/gender appropriate HPV vaccination recommendations.