Fletcher Allen, a Vermont university hospital and medical center, serves all of
Vermont and the northern New York region. Located in Burlington, Fletcher Allen is a regional, academic healthcare center and teaching hospital in alliance with the University of Vermont.
Cervical cancer starts when some cells in the cervix, the opening between the uterus and the vagina, begin to change.
Typically, the progression of cervical cells is from pre-cancerous to cancerous, making annual testing for cervical cancer important for every woman. The earlier cervical cancer is caught the better the outcome.
Cervical Cancer: What You Need to Know
- Prevention - Once a woman begins to have a monthly period, she should have a yearly pelvic exam that includes a Pap test. During this test, your doctor collects some cervical cells for testing for cell changes.
- Teamwork - Treatment for cervical cancer is best managed by a group of gynecologic cancer specialists. These experts include robotic surgeons who specialize in gynecologic oncology. At Fletcher Allen, our physicians and other support staff work together as a team, providing expert care.
- Technology - Our team uses the latest technology and most advanced procedures to treat cervical cancer. You will benefit from our highly trained da Vinci surgeons. Our Robotic Surgery for Cervical Cancer Treatment is minimally invasive, which means less pain and a shorter recovery time.
- Experienced, Trusted Expertise - As a university hospital and health system, our team provides the most advanced care backed by research. We make all diagnostic and treatment recommendations based on the latest thinking in the field. We answer all your questions so you can be as informed as possible throughout your care.
Cervical Cancer: What is it?
The cervix is the lower part of the uterus that connects to the top of the vagina. Cervical cancer begins in the lining of the cervix and usually grows slowly. The most common cause of cervical cancer is HPV (human papillomavirus) infection.
A Pap test can find changes in the cells of the cervix caused by HPV. While there is no cure for HPV, the abnormal cell growth they cause can be treated. There is a HPV vaccine. It’s recommended that parents of kids aged 13 – 15 talk to their doctors about sexual activity and ways to prevent sexually transmitted infections, including HPV.
Even though HPV is an important risk factor for cervical cancer, most women with this infection do not get cervical cancer. Doctors believe other risk factors must be present for this cancer to develop, including:
- A history of smoking
- Using birth control pills for more than five straight years
- Having many full-term pregnancies
- Sexually transmitted infections, such as:
- HIV infection (human immunodeficiency virus)
- Inconsisten health care
- Family history
Cervical Cancer Symptoms
Early cervical pre-cancers or cancer often have no signs or symptoms. That's why it's important for women to have regular Pap tests. Symptoms usually appear when the cancer is further along.
You should tell your doctor right away if you have:
- Any unusual discharge from the vagina (not your normal period)
- Blood spots or light bleeding other than your normal period
- Bleeding or pain after sex, douching, or after a pelvic exam
Of course, these symptoms may not mean that you have cancer. They can also be caused by something else, but you must check with your doctor to find out.
Cervical Cancer Treatment
The type of cervical cancer, and how advanced it is, determines your treatment options. A hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus) is often the first recommendation for women with early stage gynecologic cancer.
The three main cervical cancer treatments are:
Sometimes the best approach is to use two or more of these methods. If a cure isn’t likely, the goal may be to remove or destroy as much of the cancer as possible to keep it from growing for as long as possible.
Fletcher Allen’s physicians are highly trained in performing robotic surgery for cervical cancer. Our knowledgeable surgeons perform many robotic surgeries for cervical cancer annually.
Learn more about:
Find a Fletcher Allen Health Care physician or call 802-847-5110.