|The Diagnosis | The Treatment | Questions|
The cervix is the lower part of the womb (uterus) and is often called the neck of the womb.
The womb is a muscular, pear-shaped organ at the top of the vagina.
The lining of the womb is shed each month giving rise to bleeding called a period.
How does cancer of the cervix develop?
Cancer of the cervix can take many years to develop. Before it does, early changes take place on the cervix. The smear test is designed to detect changes in the cells so that treatment can be given before cancer develops.
Abnormal cells in the cervix which are not cancerous but may lead to cancer is called CIN (cervical intra-epithelial neoplasia). Some doctors call these changes precancer, meaning that the cells may develop into cancer if left untreated.
The abnormal cells are usually the result of a virus infection, usually by the human papilloma virus, which was probably acquired some years before it was detected by the smear test.
Many women have heard of risk factors for cancer of the cervix, such as having sex at an early age and having many sexual partners. They may be distressed that friends and families may think they fall into these categories. If you are in this situation, you should know there is no reason to blame yourself.
These factors do increase the chances of catching the virus infection, but many women without these factors in their life can also acquire the human papilloma virus and get cervical cancer. In fact, the majority of women with these risk factors never develop cervical cancer, so there are many other factors at work here, most of which are unknown.
The symptoms of cervical cancer
The most common symptom of cervical cancer is abnormal bleeding, such as between periods or after intercourse.
Often there is also a smelly vaginal discharge, and discomfort during intercourse. In post-menopausal women, who have stopped their periods, there may be some new bleeding.
The sooner you see your doctor and the diagnosis is made, the better the chance of treatment leading to a complete recovery.
Cervical Cancer in Hong Kong
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