The cervix, part of the female reproductive system, is the 1-inch tube that sits at the lower part of the uterus and connects the uterus and the vagina. The cervical canal, which extends through the cervix, has several purposes: it allows sperm to go from the vagina into the uterus, it allows menstrual blood to exit the uterus, and it opens during childbirth to allow the baby to progress from the uterus and into the vagina.
Cervical cancer, which occurs when cancer cells develop on the surface of the cervix, is a slow-growing cancer that is almost always the result of a sexually transmitted infection called human papillomavirus (HPV). In most cases, HPV clears on its own with the help of the immune system. When it doesn’t clear, however, it can turn into a precancerous condition called dysplasia that can progress into cervical cancer over time.
Pap smear is a test that can detect precancerous cells so they can be treated before they turn cancerous and is often performed by a gynecologist or your primary care provider.
Cervical cancer at UK Markey Cancer Center
Using state-of-the-art technology and leading-edge medical and surgical interventions, Markey’s cervical cancer team provides advanced and timely diagnosis and individualized, ongoing care for patients. Each patient is cared for by a team of specialists who meet regularly to discuss individual patient cases and treatment plans. This multidisciplinary team will work with you and your doctor to coordinate a care plan designed to offer the best outcomes.
Markey has provided state-of-the-art cancer care for more than 30 years, and we are proud to be the only cancer center in Kentucky designated by the National Cancer Institute. Since 2017, Markey Cancer Center has been nationally recognized as a top 50 cancer center by U.S. News & World Report.
Cervical cancer can cause a variety of symptoms, including:
- Abnormal bleeding, including irregular, heavy or longer periods
- Pain in and around the pelvis, with or without sex
- Unusual vaginal discharge
When the cancer is more advanced, patients may experience blood in the urine, difficulty while urinating or having a bowel movement or/and unexplained leg swelling.
According to the American Cancer Society, the survival rate for cervical cancer is 92 percent when it is detected before it can spread. When cervical cancer spreads to nearby areas of the body, the survival rate is 58 percent. After cervical cancer spreads throughout the body, the survival rate drops to 17 percent.
You can lower your risk of cancer by taking steps to build a healthy lifestyle. Here are some ways you can lower your risk for this disease, as well as improve your overall basic health:
- Avoid using tobacco products. Tobacco has been tied to multiple cancers, and it is responsible for 90 percent of lung cancer deaths.
- Stay physically active. Your physical activity is related to risk for colon and breast cancer. Excess weight gained from inactivity increases the risk of multiple cancers.
- Limit alcohol consumption. It is important to be mindful of how much alcohol you drink. Alcohol intake, even in moderate amounts, can increase the risk for colon, breast, esophageal and oropharyngeal cancer.
- Learn about screenings. Your primary care doctor can recommend appropriate cancer screenings based on your age, personal risk and family history.
Women are at highest risk for cervical cancer after age 40, but it can develop at any age. Cervical cancer is usually the result of HPV, and you’re at highest risk for HPV if you:
- Begin having sex before age 18
- Have sex with a man who has had multiple partners
- Have sex with multiple partners
Other cervical cancer risk factors include:
- Cigarette use
- Family history of cervical cancer
- Immune system problems
- Prior history of precancerous changes in the cervix, vagina or vulva
- Prior sexually transmitted infections
- For your first visit, you will be directed to the gynecologic oncology clinic on the third floor of the Whitney-Hendrickson Building. Directions to the Whitney-Hendrickson Building.
- You can register at the front desk or registration area, where a Markey team member will help guide you through your appointment.
- Several parking options are available to patients of Markey Cancer Center.
- Please remember to bring your patient packet with the completed forms. These items will help your doctor learn more about your case and determine the best plan for your care.
- To meet our patient needs, UK HealthCare accepts many forms of insurance.
Clinical trials are research studies aimed at evaluating medical, surgical or behavioral interventions to determine if a new treatment is safe and effective.
At the UK Markey Cancer Center, we are advancing cancer care and research to prevent, detect and treat one patient at a time. As a patient at Markey, you have a team of people looking at your individual case, applying the most recent cancer knowledge to give you the best chance of survival.
Markey has more open clinical trials than any other cancer center in the region, giving you access to some of the most advanced options available. Learn more about ongoing clinical trials for treating cervical cancer.