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starts in the cells of the cervix. The cervix is the opening of the uterus.
Common symptoms include the following:
- Unusual vaginal bleeding after sex
- Vaginal bleeding or discharge between your normal monthly periods
- Vaginal bleeding or discharge after menopause
- Pelvic pain or low back pain
- Swelling in your legs from fluid buildup
Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) for any of the following:
- You suddenly feel lightheaded and short of breath.
- You have chest pain when you take a deep breath or cough.
- You cough up blood.
Call your doctor or oncologist if:
- Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
- You cannot urinate.
- You have a fever.
- You have foul-smelling vaginal discharge.
- You have new or heavier bleeding from your vagina.
- You have new or worsening pain.
- You have nausea or are vomiting.
- You have swelling in your abdomen or legs.
- You have to urinate urgently and often, or you cannot hold your urine.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Treatment for cervical cancer
may include any of the following:
- Radiation therapy is used to kill cancer cells with high-energy x-ray beams.
- Chemotherapy is medicine given to kill cancer cells.
- Targeted therapy is medicine given to kill cancer cells without harming healthy cells.
- Surgery may be needed to remove the cervical cancer. Your ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus may be removed if the cancer has spread to these areas. All or part of your vagina, bladder, or end of your bowel may also be removed. Ask your healthcare provider for more information on the different types of surgeries you may need.
- Eat a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Ask if you need to be on a special diet.
- Exercise as directed. Ask your healthcare provider or oncologist about the best exercise plan for you. Exercise prevents muscle loss and can help improve your energy level and appetite.
- Do not smoke. Smoking increases your risk for new or returning cancer. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
- Drink liquids as directed. Liquids prevent dehydration. Ask your healthcare provider how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you.
- Limit or do not drink alcohol as directed. Ask your healthcare provider if it is safe for you to drink alcohol. Also ask how much is safe for you to drink. Alcohol can make it hard to manage side effects of cancer treatment.
Prevent cervical cancer:
- Use condoms and barrier methods for all types of sexual contact. This will help prevent human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. Use a new condom or latex barrier each time you have sex. This includes oral, vaginal, and anal sex. Make sure that the condom fits and is put on correctly. Rubber latex sheets or dental dams can be used for oral sex. Ask your healthcare provider how to use these items and where to get them. If you are allergic to latex, use a nonlatex product such as polyurethane.
- Ask about the HPV vaccine. The vaccine can help protect against HPV infection. It is most effective if given before sexual activity begins. This allows the body to build almost complete protection against HPV before contact with the virus. The vaccine is usually given at 11 or 12 years of age but may be given as early as 9 years. The vaccine can be given through age 26.
- Get Pap smears as directed. The Pap smear can help diagnose cervical cancer in an early stage. Cancer that is in an early stage may be easier to treat. Pap smears usually start at age 21 and continue until age 65. A Pap smear alone may be done every 3 years. An HPV test alone or with a Pap smear may be done every 5 years, starting at age 30. Your healthcare provider will tell you if you need to have Pap smears more often or after age 65.
For support and more information:
- American Cancer Society
250 Williams Street
Atlanta , GA 30303
Phone: 1- 800 - 227-2345
Web Address: http://www.cancer.org
- National Cancer Institute
6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 300
Bethesda , MD 20892-8322
Phone: 1- 800 - 422-6237
Web Address: http://www.cancer.gov
Follow up with your doctor or oncologist as directed:
You will need to see your oncologist for ongoing tests. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
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