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Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is often curable, and the number of cases is declining.

Cervical cancer occurs in the lower part of the uterus, the cervix. Globally, it is one of the most common women’s cancers but is gradually becoming a rare disease in developed countries.

Early stages of cervical cancer often present non-specific symptoms or are asymptomatic. Symptoms of cervical cancer may include vaginal bleeding between periods, pain and bleeding during and after intercourse, discharges with blood, and pelvic pain.

The main cause of cervical cancer is infection by certain subtypes of human papillomavirus (HPV). The introduction of a highly efficacious HPV vaccine, together with improved screening and treatment of precancerous cervical lesions, will hopefully result in the eradication of the disease. Efficient screening programs that combine cytology (“pap smear”) and HPV-test commonly detect early stages of cervical cancer. Abnormal screening results are further investigated by gynecologists and may include a biopsy taken from the cervix and radiology. The diagnostic work-up follows the standardized medical care for cervical cancer (“SVF”). 

Cervical cancer is often curable, but the prognosis ultimately depends on a number of factors, including cancer stage and tumor size. Primary treatment is normally surgery where a part of the cervix or the entire uterus (womb) is removed. In most cases, surgical assessment of lymph nodes in the pelvis is necessary to rule out whether the cancer has metastasized. Additional treatment (radiotherapy combined with chemotherapy) may be necessary for some patients. For young women with small tumors, fertility-sparing procedures may be possible. In Sweden, fertility-sparing surgery is centralized in only two hospitals, of which Karolinska University Hospital is one. For women with advanced cervical cancer, primary treatment consists of radiotherapy and chemotherapy.  


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