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MedlinePlus is a service of the National Library of Medicine (NLM), the world's largest medical library, which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It was built as an online health information resource for patients and their families and friends.

MedlinePlus presents high-quality, easy to understand, relevant health and wellness information that is trusted.

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Cervical Cancer

The cervix is the lower part of the uterus, the place where a baby grows during pregnancy. Cervical cancer is caused by a virus called HPV. The virus spreads through sexual contact. Most women's bodies are able to fight HPV infection. But sometimes the virus leads to cancer. You're at higher risk if you smoke, have had many children, use birth control pills for a long time, or have HIV infection.

Cervical cancer may not cause any symptoms at first. Later, you may have pelvic pain or bleeding from the vagina. It usually takes several years for normal cells in the cervix to turn into cancer cells. Your health care provider can find abnormal cells by doing a Pap test to examine cells from the cervix. You may also have an HPV test. If your results are abnormal, you may need a biopsy or other tests. By getting regular screenings, you can find and treat any problems before they turn into cancer.

Treatment may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination. The choice of treatment depends on the size of the tumor, whether the cancer has spread and whether you would like to become pregnant someday.

Vaccines can protect against several types of HPV, including some that can cause cancer.

NIH: National Cancer Institute