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Military Health System

Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the cells of the CervixThe cervix is the lower, narrow end of the uterus (womb).  The cervix connects the uterus to the vagina (birth canal).cervix. Cervical cancer usually develops slowly over time. Nearly all types of cervical cancer are caused by long-lasting human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. Most HPV infections go away on their own, but if high-risk HPV infection lasts for many years, it can lead to changes in cervical cells, which if left untreated can become cancer.

Risk Factors

Women of all ages are at risk for cervical cancer, but it occurs most often in women over age 30, Common risk factors for cervical cancer include: 

  • Having a weakened immune system
  • Smoking or breathing second-hand smoke
  • Become sexually active at an early age or having multiple partners
  • Other reproductive factors such as using birth control pills

Women whose mothers took diethylstilbestrolBetween 1940 and 1971, DES was given the some pregnant women to prevent miscarriage and premature labor. Women whose mothers took DES while pregnant have an increased risk of cervical cell abnormalities. diethylstilbestrol (DES) while they were pregnant to prevent miscarriage and premature, have an increased risk of cervical cell changes.

Prevention

Cervical cancer is preventable and curable if caught early. Prevention steps include getting: 

  • The HPV vaccine when recommended
  • Cervical cancer screening which include HPV and pap tests
  • Follow-up treatment, if needed

Signs & Symptoms

Cervical cancer symptoms don't usually appear until the cancer has spread, and many of these may be symptoms of other conditions. Routine screening and not ignoring symptoms is the best way to get an early diagnosis and begin treatment. 

Early-Stage Symptoms
(About 44% of people with cervical cancer are diagnosed at an early stage)
Advanced-Stage Symptoms
  • Vaginal bleeding after sex, menopause or between periods 
  • Periods that are heavier or longer than normal 
  • Vaginal discharge that is watery and has a strong odor or that contains blood
  • Pelvic pain or pain during sex
  • Difficult or painful bowel movements or bleeding when having a bowel movement 
  • Difficult or painful urination or blood in the urine
  • Dull backache
  • Leg swelling
  •  Abdominal pain
  • Feeling tired
Source: National Cancer Institute

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Cervical Cancer Screening Available at NHB

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Walk-in availability for cervical cancer screening – also known as a Pap test or Pap smear – will begin at Naval Hospital Bremerton’s OB/GYN clinic, Sept. 2, 2022.

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Early detection and prevention methods are key to help women fight and prevent this form of cancer.

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A new study of female service members that examined their immune response to a vaccine to combat the sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer showed development of antibodies in 80 to 99 percent of recipients against each of the four strains of the disease.

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Cervical Cancer

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This case definition was developed in 2010 by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center (AFHSC) in collaboration with a working group of subject matter experts from the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs (ASDHA), the United States Army Public Health Command (USAPHC) and the United States Military Cancer Institute. The definition was developed for the purpose of epidemiological surveillance of invasive cancers and was used in a June 2012 Medical Surveillance Monthly Report (MSMR) article on incident diagnoses of cancers.

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Last Updated: January 09, 2023
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