Cervical Cancer During Pregnancy
Answers to all your questions about how cervical cancer affects pregnancy -- and how to keep yourself and baby healthy during all nine months.
What is cervical cancer during pregnancy?
Cervical cancer is cancer of the cervix, the opening to the uterus.
What are the signs of cervical cancer during pregnancy?
Early cervical cancer often doesn’t have any noticeable signs or symptoms. Late symptoms include vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain and pain during sex.
Are there any tests for cervical cancer during pregnancy?
Yep. A Pap smear screens for cancer and precancerous changes of the cervix. If a Pap smear finds signs of cancer, your doctor will order a colposcopy to take a closer look. (A speculum will be used to hold your vagina open and make the cervix easy to see. Then the doc will spray a vinegar-based solution on your cervix; the solution makes it easier to see and evaluate any abnormalities via a special magnifying glass.) The doc may also take samples and send them to the lab for diagnosis.
How common is cervical cancer during pregnancy?
If you’re waiting for test results to come back, rest assured: “Full-blown cervical cancer during pregnancy is very uncommon,” says Sharon Phelan, MD, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of New Mexico.
How did I get cervical cancer?
Cervical cancer is caused by HPV (human papillomavirus) infection. HPV is sexually transmitted; it’s also extremely common. Most women get HPV at some point in their lives, but most clear the infection in a couple of years without any problems. No one is quite sure how this happens, or why some women get rid of HPV with no problems and others develop cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer is a very slow-growing cancer that progresses through a series of precancerous stages before becoming full-blown cancer. If you get regular Pap smears -- and follow up on the results -- your odds of developing cervical cancer are very small.
How will my cervical cancer affect my baby?
The cancer itself probably won’t affect your baby, but the treatment might (see next page).