On a worldwide basis, cervical cancer is one of the most widespread and common cancers in the female population. In the more developed countries, it is not as common where there is screening for cancer.
The organism that causes cervical cancer is the Human Papillomavirus, also called HPV. There are many different varieties of this virus, and not every manifestation causes cancer, and in many cases, it will cause genital warts. Some of the varieties actually cause no symptoms at all.
It is thought that most adult women have been exposed to and infected with some type of HPV at some time in their lives. Common genital infections can be from exposure to the virus, and they will go away on their own, but some will turn into cancer.
Women who go regularly to their doctor can get a test called the PAP test. By a woman having this test, the doctor can see that there are cells that have changes which can turn the cell into a cancerous cell. If this type of change is detected, the area can be treated and a cancerous situation can be prevented.
Symptoms to be aware of such as pain in the abdomen, the lower belly or pelvis, should alert a woman to see their doctor. Any vaginal discharge that is not normal, or any bleeding after sex, should also be a warning sign of cervical cancer.
During the PAP test the doctor can scrape some of the cells off of the cervix surface, and then when it gets to the lab tests will show if there is any evidence of precancerous cells. Also, if the doctor deems it necessary, a small section of the cervix can be snipped as a tissue sample for further examination.
If there are cancerous cells, further surgery may be necessary or other types of treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation may also be necessary.
As with any cancer, the goal is to nip it in the bud before it spreads, as once that occurs, the treatment options become more and more limited. Once cancer from any source gets into the bloodstream or the lymph system, it can spread to any part of the body fairly rapidly.
Regular checkups on at least an annual basis are recommended for women just to have the PAP test according to MedlinePlus and be sure that there are no abnormalities in the cervical cells.