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The cervix is the lower, narrow part of the uterus (womb) located between the bladder and the rectum. It forms a canal that opens into the vagina, which leads to the outside of the body. When abnormal cells on the surface of the cervix spread deeper into the cervix or to other tissues or organs, the disease is called cervical cancer or invasive cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer most commonly is seen in women between the ages of 35 and 55. The mortality rates for cervical cancer have declined sharply as Pap screenings have become more prevalent.

Symptoms of cervical cancer usually do not appear until abnormal cervical cells become cancerous and invade nearby tissue. The most common symptom is abnormal bleeding, which may start and stop between regular menstrual periods or occur after sexual intercourse, douching, or a pelvic exam.

Other symptoms of cervical cancer may include:

  • Heavier menstrual bleeding, which may last longer than usual
  • Bleeding after menopause
  • Increased vaginal discharge
  • Pain during intercourse

The symptoms of cervical cancer may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Consult an Inova doctor for diagnosis.