Cervical cancer and can occur at any age although it mainly affects women in their 30s or 40s. It is very rare in women under 25. Regular cervical screening (smear tests) can detect pre-cancer which can be treated before cancer develops. If cervical cancer is diagnosed at an early stage then there is a good chance of a cure.
The common early symptom of cervical cancer is abnormal vaginal bleeding such as:
- bleeding between normal periods (intermenstrual bleeding)
- bleeding after having sex (post coital bleeding)
- any vaginal bleeding in women that have been through the menopause.
- other symptoms can be vaginal discharge that smells unpleasant or discomfort/pain during sex.
The most common treatment is a radical hysterectomy. This involves removing the womb (uterus), cervix, tissue around the cervix (parametrial tissue), fallopian tubes, the upper part of the vagina, pelvic lymph nodes and sometimes the ovaries. Surgery could be keyhole or open surgery.
A treatment for early stage cervical cancer can be a trachelectomy which is an operation that preserves fertility for women who still wish to have children. The operation involves the removal of the cervix, tissue around the cervix (parametrial tissue) and a small section of the upper part of the vagina. The womb (uterus), ovaries and fallopian tubes are left in place.
Chemotherapy or radiotherapy is sometimes used along with surgery. Radiotherapy can sometimes be used as an alternative to surgery for early stage cervical cancer.
You can read more about cervical cancer treatments in these leaflets: