Cervical cancer is a cancer of the cervix, the boundary between the uterus and the vagina. It is the eighth most common cancer in women in the United States. It is asymptomatic in its early stages, but as it spreads can cause vaginal bleeding, pain in the pelvis, or pain during sexual intercourse. However, even in the early stages, it can be detected with a specialized diagnostic procedure called a pap smear which is minimally invasive and is usually performed routinely during a gynecological examination.
About 90% of cases involve a patient with the human papilloma virus, although even women who have had the virus are unlikely to develop cancer. Other risk factors are smoking, a weak immune system, use of the contraceptive pill, starting sex at an early age or having numerous sex partners.The link between some sort of STD and cervical cancer was noted as early as the mid 19th century.
Once detected, the prognosis is good with either surgery to remove the tissue or radiation therapy if surgery is impractical. However, the prognosis is poor once the cancer reaches metastasis. Chemotherapy is usually used as a follow up.