What is cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer develops in stages. In its early stages, it is potentially curable. That is why a regular Pap smear is important as it can detect abnormal cells that may one day become cancerous.

The cervix is at the lowest part of the uterus (womb). Cancer of the cervix or cervical cancer, begins in the lining of the cervix. There are 2 main types of cervical cancer: squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma.

Risk factors for cervical cancer

  • Sexual intercourse at an early age
  • Previous infection by the human papilloma virus (HPV)
  • Any medical condition or treatment that affects your immune system, e.g. autoimmune disease, taking long-term steroids
  • Past diagnosis of pre-cancerous stage cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN)
  • Smoking

Symptoms of cervical cancer

These symptoms may be caused by a number of problems and may not indicate the presence of cervical cancer. But if any of these symptoms persists or is bothering you, do consult your doctor.​

  • Vaginal bleeding in between periods
  • Bleeding after intercourse
  • Postmenopausal bleeding
  • Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
  • Non-specific pain in the pelvic area
  • Lower back pain
  • Unexplained tiredness

Pre-cancerous (CIN) stage, and early cervical cancer carcinoma in-situ (CIS), usually have no symptoms. Therefore, it is important for women to have a regular Pap smear. All women should go for a Pap smear if they have ever had sex. A Pap smear can be done every 1 to 3 years as advised by the doctor.

Cervical cancer screening is available at:

Specialist services are available at:

Cervical cancer treatment

Cervical cancer treatment options include:

  • Surgery – ranging from cryosurgery to hysterectomy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy

Ref: S13