These FAQs about cervical cancer have been answered by women who have learned about this subject in order to better understand their condition. For more information about cervical cancer, please visit our Resource section on gynecological cancers.
Jax, Massachusetts, USA: In my case, I had no symptoms of cervical cancer. I was ultimately diagnosed because my gynecologist had just come back from a conference in Montreal on Human Papilloma Virus (HPV.) Since she knew that close to 95 percent of cervical cancers are now being attributed to cellular change brought on by HPV, and that anywhere between 40 and 70 percent of American women carry the human papilloma vrius (although out of hundreds of strains, only two or three are considered dangerous), she decided to pursue what was showing up as "mild changes" she could see on my cervix despite the fact that a second pap test and a colpopscopy had both read normal.
I tested positive for HPV 16, one of the dangerous strains. At her suggestion, I went into the hospital for a cone biopsy under general anesthesia. When the results of the cone biopsy came back it showed carcinoma in situ, CIN III. I was told the cancer had been detected early and that a radical hysterectomy was likely to be curative.
Thanks to my savvy gynecologist, my pathology report after the radical hysterectomy read "histologic grade II, superficially invasive (2.6 mm); tumor invades through 32% of the cervical wall. All margins negative for tumor."
I now recommend that women get a test for HPV along with their pap test to determine if they are at greater risk for cervical cancer.