The cervix is the lower part of the uterus, the place where a baby grows during pregnancy. Cervical cancer is caused by a virus called HPV. The virus spreads through sexual contact. Most women's bodies are able to fight HPV infection. But sometimes the virus leads to cancer. You're at higher risk if you smoke, have many children, use birth control pills for a long time, or have HIV infection.

Cervical cancer may not cause any symptoms at first. Later, you may have pelvic pain or bleeding from the vagina. It usually takes several years for normal cells in the cervix to turn into cancer cells. Your health care provider can find abnormal cells by doing a Pap test - examining cells from the cervix under a microscope. If there are abnormal cells, you will need a biopsy. By getting regular Pap tests and pelvic exams you can find and treat any problems before they turn into cancer.

Treatment may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination. The choice of treatment depends on the size of the tumor, whether the cancer has spread and whether you would like to become pregnant someday.

Vaccines can protect against several types of HPV, including some that can cause cancer.

Content obtained from NIH: National Cancer Institute