Southcoast Health: A Care Team for Patients with Cervical Cancer in MA & RI
Each year in the United States, over 12,000 women find out they have cervical cancer. While it used to be the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in American women, the death rate from cervical cancer has fallen by more than 50% over the last 40 years. This is largely due to better screening and discovering cancerous changes earlier.
At Southcoast Health, we have an award-winning cancer team that is confident in treating patients with many types of cancer, including cervical cancer in Fall River and Fairhaven, MA. Find a specialist near you today to schedule a consultation.
What Is Cervical Cancer?
Having cervical cancer means you have malignant cells in your cervix — the neck of tissue connecting the uterus and vagina. There are three different types of cervical cancer:
- Squamous cell carcinoma forms in the cervical cells closest to the vagina. This type accounts for nine out of 10 cervical cancers.
- Adenocarcinoma starts in the cervical gland cells closest to the uterus. This is the second most common type.
- Mixed carcinoma has features of both types of cervical cancer and is much less common.
Risk Factors & Causes
Cervical cancer almost always results from an earlier infection with HPV (human papillomavirus). Today, HPV vaccines make cervical cancer a highly preventable disease. However, not all women with HPV infection will develop cervical cancer.
Other risk factors for cervical cancer include:
- Family history of cervical cancer
- First full-term pregnancy before age 17 — the risk is twice that of women who waited until age 25
- Long-term use of birth control pills — the risk goes back down after you stop taking the pill
- Multiple full-term pregnancies — three or more
- Smoking — women who smoke have double the risk of developing cervical cancer
- Suppressed immune system — due to HIV or immunosuppressive drugs
- Lifestyle factors, such as being overweight and eating a diet low in fruits and vegetables, can also increase the risk
Symptoms of Cervical Cancer
Pap test screening catches most cervical cancers before symptoms develop. In fact, Pap tests find precancerous changes far more often than actual cervical cancers. This is lifesaving because symptoms often don’t develop until the cancer has grown and invaded surrounding tissues.
When symptoms of cervical cancer occur, the most common ones include:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding — after sex, after menopause, between periods or periods that are longer or heavier than usual
- Pain with sexual intercourse
- Pelvic pain
- Unusual vaginal discharge
Cervical Cancer Treatment Options
Treatment depends on the stage of cervical cancer. Your treatment options for cervical cancer at Southcoast Health may include:
- Targeted cancer therapy
We will help you find a customized treatment plan that is effective for treating your symptoms.
Through the Southcoast Health Cancer Centers, we provide reliable treatment for cervical cancer in Fall River and Fairhaven, MA, as well as the surrounding areas.