Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that develops in the cervix, which is the bottom region of the uterus that attaches to the vagina. Cervical cancer occurs when a cell in the cervix experiences a DNA mutation that interferes with its growth, division, and apoptosis. While it is not clear what causes mutations, it is known to be associated with the human papillomavirus (HPV). It is not uncommon for an individual to have HPV, and it does not usually cause problems. However, certain strains of the human papillomavirus combined with environmental factors can cause the development of cervical cancer. Adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are the two types of cervical cancer. Cervical cancer typically doesn't produce symptoms until it is advanced. Bleeding after intercourse, bleeding after menopause, or bleeding between periods can indicate cervical cancer. A punch biopsy or endocervical curettage are used to diagnose cervical cancer.
An individual affected by cervical cancer may require chemotherapy if their cancer has metastasized or other methods are unsuccessful at the elimination of cancerous cells. Chemotherapy uses certain kinds of potent medications to kill off cancerous cells in a patient's body. Chemotherapy works by killing off any cells in the cellular division process since malignant cells are almost always in some cellular division phase. Chemotherapy can be given orally, but it is more common or it to be administered intravenously in a medical facility. Chemotherapy is often used in cases of cervical cancer when the patient's malignancy has spread beyond the cervix and into the nearby tissues or lymph nodes. It is not uncommon for an affected individual to undergo surgery to remove cancer and then have chemotherapy afterward to ensure all cancerous cells were removed. Chemotherapy may not be used in cases where cervical cancer is in its very early stages because it is known to cause complicated and unpleasant side effects.