cervical cancer causes

Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the cells lining the cervix, the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. It is a common form of cancer among women worldwide, but with early detection and appropriate treatment, it is often preventable and curable. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and various treatment options for cervical cancer.

Causes of Cervical Cancer

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Infection

The primary cause of cervical cancer is persistent infection with high-risk types of Human Papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a group of viruses that can be transmitted through sexual contact. While most HPV infections are harmless and resolve on their own, persistent infection with certain types, such as HPV-16 and HPV-18, can lead to the development of cervical cancer over time.

Other Risk Factors

Smoking: Women who smoke are at a higher risk of developing cervical cancer than non-smokers. The harmful chemicals in tobacco can damage the DNA of cervical cells, making them more susceptible to cancerous changes.

Weakened Immune System: Individuals with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV or taking immunosuppressive medications, are at an increased risk of developing cervical cancer.

Oral Contraceptives: Long-term use of oral contraceptives has been linked to a slightly increased risk of cervical cancer. However, the risk tends to decrease after discontinuation of the contraceptive.

Multiple Pregnancies: Women who have had multiple full-term pregnancies may have a higher risk of developing cervical cancer. The exact reasons for this association are not fully understood.

Symptoms of Cervical Cancer

In the early stages, cervical cancer may not cause noticeable symptoms. However, as the disease progresses, the following signs and symptoms may become apparent:

Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding: Unusual bleeding between periods, after intercourse, or after menopause may signal cervical cancer. It can manifest as heavier menstrual bleeding or bleeding that is not related to the menstrual cycle.

Pelvic Pain: Persistent pelvic pain, discomfort during intercourse, or pain during urination can be indicative of cervical cancer. These symptoms may arise as the cancer spreads to nearby tissues.

Unexplained Weight Loss: In advanced stages of cervical cancer, unexplained weight loss and fatigue may occur. This can be a result of the body’s response to the cancer’s impact on overall health.

Changes in Bowel or Bladder Habits: Advanced cervical cancer may affect nearby organs, leading to changes in bowel or bladder habits. This can include constipation, blood in the stool, or difficulty urinating.

Diagnosis of Cervical Cancer

Pap Smear (Pap Test)

Regular screenings with Pap smears are crucial for the early detection of cervical abnormalities that could progress to cancer. During a Pap smear, a healthcare provider collects cells from the cervix and examines them for any abnormalities. If abnormal cells are detected, further tests may be recommended.

HPV Testing

HPV testing is often performed in conjunction with Pap smears, especially for women over 30. This test detects the presence of high-risk HPV types that are associated with cervical cancer. A positive result may indicate the need for additional testing or closer monitoring.


If abnormal cells are identified, a colposcopy may be performed. During this procedure, a special magnifying instrument called a colposcope is used to examine the cervix more closely. If necessary, a biopsy may be taken to confirm the presence of cancerous cells.

Imaging Studies

To determine the extent of the cancer and whether it has spread to other areas of the body, imaging studies such as MRI, CT scans, or PET scans may be conducted.

Stages of Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is staged based on the extent of its spread. The stages are as follows:

Stage 0 (Carcinoma in situ): Abnormal cells are found only on the surface of the cervix.

Stage I: Cancer is confined to the cervix.

Stage II: Cancer has spread beyond the cervix to nearby tissues.

Stage III: Cancer has invaded the lower third of the vagina or the pelvic wall and may cause kidney issues.

Stage IV: Cancer has spread to the bladder, rectum, or other parts of the body.

Treatment Options for Cervical Cancer

The choice of treatment depends on the stage of the cancer, overall health, and individual preferences. Treatment modalities for cervical cancer may include:


Cryotherapy: This involves freezing and destroying abnormal cells on the cervix.

Laser Therapy: A focused laser is used to remove abnormal cells.

Conization (LEEP): A cone-shaped piece of tissue is removed from the cervix for examination.

Hysterectomy: In advanced cases, the removal of the uterus and possibly surrounding tissues may be recommended.

Radiation Therapy

External Beam Radiation: Precisely targeted radiation is delivered from outside the body.

Brachytherapy: Radioactive material is placed directly into or near the tumor.


Chemotherapy involves the use of drugs to kill cancer cells or stop their growth. It can be administered orally or intravenously.

Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapies are drugs that specifically target cancer cells, minimizing damage to healthy cells. Bevacizumab is an example of a targeted therapy used in cervical cancer treatment.


Immunotherapy boosts the body’s immune system to better fight cancer. Pembrolizumab is an example of an immunotherapy drug used in advanced cervical cancer.

Coping with Cervical Cancer

A cervical cancer diagnosis can be emotionally challenging. It is essential for individuals and their loved ones to seek support from healthcare professionals, counselors, and support groups. Additionally, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and a balanced diet, can contribute to overall well-being during and after treatment.

Prevention of Cervical Cancer

HPV Vaccination

The most effective way to prevent cervical cancer is through vaccination against high-risk HPV types. The HPV vaccine is recommended for both males and females before they become sexually active.

Regular Screenings

Pap smears and HPV testing, as recommended by healthcare providers, play a crucial role in early detection and prevention of cervical cancer. Regular screenings can identify precancerous changes, allowing for timely intervention.

Safe Sexual Practices

Practicing safe sex, including consistent and correct condom use, can reduce the risk of HPV infection and other sexually transmitted infections.

Smoking Cessation

Quitting smoking is beneficial for overall health and can significantly reduce the risk of cervical cancer.


Cervical cancer is a preventable and treatable condition when detected early. Regular screenings, vaccination, and adopting a healthy lifestyle contribute to both prevention and early intervention. With advancements in medical research and technology, the prognosis for individuals with cervical cancer continues to improve. It is crucial for individuals to prioritize their health, seek regular screenings, and consult healthcare professionals for personalized guidance and care.


By saransh