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Fighting Cervical Cancer


Cervical cancer starts in the cervix — the cylinder-shaped neck of tissue that connects your uterus and vagina. Every year, more than 12,000 women are diagnosed with this disease. Fortunately, enhanced screening and detection methods have led to better outcomes.

If you’d like more information about cervical cancer in the Bay Area, come to Dignity Health for expert care. Our gynecologists and oncologists partner together, and are passionate about helping you prevent and fight cancer at every stage. For the services you need, Find a Doctor online.

Cervical Cancer Risk Factors & Causes

The primary cause of cervical cancer is prior infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV). However, not all women with the HPV infection develop cervical cancer.

These are the most important risk factors for cervical cancer:

  • Smoking — your risk doubles if you smoke
  • Family history of cervical cancer
  • Long-term use of birth control pills — your risk goes back down after you stop taking the pill
  • Suppressed immune system resulting from HIV or immunosuppressant drugs
  • Multiple full-term pregnancies (three or more)
  • First full-term pregnancy before age 17 — your risk is double that of women who wait until age 25
  • Being overweight
  • Diet low in fruits and vegetables

A Dignity Health doctor can help you lower your risk factors. To learn more, visit one of our cancer centers in the Bay Area:

Cervical Cancer Symptoms

In more advanced stages, symptoms of cervical cancer may include: 

  • Pelvic pain
  • Pain during sex
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding — after sex, after menopause, and between periods
  • Periods that are longer or heavier than usual
  • Unusual vaginal discharge

Since these symptoms are very similar to those of other gynecological conditions, talk with your doctor for the right diagnosis.

Cervical Cancer Treatment & Prevention at Dignity Health

When needed, treatment for cervical cancer may include chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, and targeted cancer therapy. Dignity Health doctors use state-of-the-art surgical tools to remove cancerous and noncancerous tumors.

The development of HPV vaccines have help improved cervical cancer prevention. Additionally, a regular Pap test, or Pap smear, can catch most cervical cancers early, before symptoms begin. Schedule your annual exam to receive a Pap test at a Dignity Health hospital in the Bay Area today.

Dignity Health hospitals in the Bay Area provide expert care for all stages of cervical cancer in San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Redwood City.