Cervical cancer. (Source: Shutterstock)
Cervical cancer is a disease in which cancer cells are found in the tissue of the cervix. Histologically, the majority of cases are squamous cell carcinomas. It is the fourth most common malignant tumour in women worldwide. The incidence of cervical cancer varies considerably worldwide.
The most common cause of cervical cancer is infection with certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV).
Cervical cancer does not initially cause any pain, only slight spotting may occur. Later, unusual bleeding, abdominal pain and an enlarged uterus indicate the presence of the disease. Only when the tumour becomes larger and disintegrates with ulceration does a flesh-coloured, sweet-smelling discharge occur.
In the early stages, the complete removal of the tumour is sufficient. In the advanced stage, the removal of the whole uterus with surrounding tissue and sometimes also other organs becomes necessary. An examination for early detection is the PAP test. Cervical cancer can also be diagnosed by ultrasound, computer tomography (CT), nuclear spin tomography, hysteroscopy (endoscopy of the uterus) or curettage (tissue sample).