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Cervical Cancer

What is cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer is a cancer that starts in the cervix, which is the lower part of womb.

Worldwide, cervical cancer is the third most common cancer in women.

Risk factors

  • Infection with human papillomavirus (HPV) which mainly transmitted through sexual intercourse

  • Having sexual activity at an early age (<16)

  • Multiple sexual partners or sexual partner with multiple sexual partners

  • Smoking active (up to 3 fold increase in risk of cervical cancer) and passive smoking

  • Weakened immunity



  • The majority have no symptoms at the early stage.

  • The commonest symptom is irregular vaginal bleeding

  • Between periods, after sexual intercourse or after menopause


Other symptoms include...

  • vaginal discharge with foul smell

  • pelvic pain, backache

  • blood in urine or pain on passing urine 

  • leg swelling

  • general malaise and weight loss


The above symptoms do not necessarily mean you have cervical cancer. They could be common conditions.

Consult a doctor if you develop symptoms of any kind.

Primary prevention

  • cervical cancer screening (cervical smear/pap smear test)

  • HPV vaccine


Other prevention

  • Have long-term, mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner

  • Practice safer sex by using barrier and spermicidal contraceptives

  • Do not smoke and minimize exposure to second-hand smoking

  • Have diets rich in vegetables and fruits


Who need Pap smear?

  • All women aged 25-64 yrs, who have ever had sexual experience

  • Women below the age of 25 who had sexual experience and have risk factor for cervical cancer could seek medical advice from doctors concerning the need for cervical cancer

  • Women who never had sexual experience or who have had total hysterectomy (removal of uterus) do not need cervical smear


Screening interval

  • The screening interval can follow the sequence of 1 year, 1 year, 3 year, 3 year and so on. That is if the first 2 annual cervical smears show normal then repeat every 3 years

  • But if there is any problem such as vaginal bleeding or pain don’t wait for the next smear, see the doctor straight away even if the recent smear report is normal

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