What women should know about cervical cancer | Ascension
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What women should know about cervical cancer

Dr. Marcia Schmidt, gynecologic oncologist at Ascension Medical Group St. Vincent’s Gynecologic Oncology and Advanced Women’s Health in Jacksonville, Florida answers common questions about cervical cancer.

Cancer is personal, so is the way we care for you. Dr. Marcia Schmdit, gynecologic oncologist at Ascension Medical Group St. Vincent’s Gynecologic Oncology and Advanced Women’s Health in Jacksonville, Florida, addresses common questions about cervical cancer. 

Is cervical cancer very serious? 

Cervical cancer is a serious disease that originates at the level of the cervix. If diagnosis and treatment are delayed, there is a risk that the disease can spread to other places. 

At Ascension St. Vincent’s, our doctors recommend a cervical cancer screening starting at age 21 and every three years for those at average risk. If you have a personal or family history, related symptoms, or high risk HPV (human papillomavirus), talk with your doctor about the right screening and timing for you. 

How do you feel when you have cervical cancer? 

Women with early stage cervical cancer often are completely asymptomatic. With advanced stage disease, patients may be fatigued, tired, note abnormal discharge, foul odor, abnormal bleeding, pelvic back or abdominal pain.

What are the 5 warning signs of cervical cancer? 

Signs of cervical cancer include, but are not limited to:

  1. Abnormal vaginal discharge with possible foul odor. 
  2. Abnormal vaginal bleeding, for example, bleeding between periods or bleeding after intercourse. 
  3. Pain in the pelvis, abdomen, back or with intercourse.
  4. Change in bowel habits, or change of consistency of the bowel movement. 
  5. Changes in bladder habits with increased frequency in urination, blood noted in urine or discomfort with urination.

If you have any questions or concerns, contact your doctor’s office for an appointment. 

Is cervical cancer usually curable? 

In general, we think of cervical cancer as a treatable disease. For patients who are diagnosed at an early stage with disease limited to the cervix, the 5 year survival rate is 92-percent. Getting regular cervical cancer screenings may help find cancer early, when it is most treatable. If you’re not sure when your next cervical cancer screening should be, ask your doctor.

Designed specifically for you, your care plan may include advanced cancer medications, from chemotherapy and precision medicine to biotherapy, immunotherapy or hormone therapy. Whenever possible, minimally invasive surgery will be recommended.

Your care team may include gynecologic oncologists, surgeons, radiation oncologists, pathologists, oncology-certified nurses, care navigators, genetic counselors, palliative care specialists, dietitians, and rehabilitation therapists. 

Beyond your treatment, we’ll help you manage side effects and fatigue and provide encouragement and support.

Personalized care for you

Gynecologic oncologists deliver compassionate care for all gynecologic cancers, including cervical cancer, endometrial cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, vaginal and vulvar cancers. By getting to know you and working together, you get a care plan that’s customized to your needs. And with a plan, comes hope. Our goal is to help you recover faster so you can get back to life. To find a doctor visit ascension.org/StVincentsWomens.

Dr. Marcia Schmidt is a board certified gynecologic oncologist with Ascension St. Vincent’s Gynecologic Oncology and Advanced Women’s Health in Jacksonville, Florida.