Cervical Cancer Care

The Northside Hospital Cancer Institute (NHCI) Gynecologic Cancer Program is Georgia’s leading provider of gynecologic (GYN) cancer care, diagnosing and treating more new cases of cervical cancer than any other hospital in Georgia. Northside Hospital ranks among the top five women’s cancer programs in the country.

What Is Cervical Cancer?

Cervical cancer is a type of gynecologic cancer that starts in the cervix. The cervix is the narrow passage forming the lower part of the uterus (womb).

Cervical Cancer Symptoms

Most of the time, early cervical cancer has no symptoms. Symptoms may not begin until the cancer has grown and spread into nearby tissue.

The most common symptoms of cervical cancer may include:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding between periods, after intercourse, or after menopause
  • Unusual vaginal discharge that may contain some blood and may be pale, watery, pink, brown, bloody, or foul-smelling
  • Periods that become heavier and last longer than usual
  • Pain during sex

Learn more about cervical cancer.

Cervical Cancer Risk Factors & Prevention

Risk Factors

Almost all cervical cancers are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), a common virus that is spread through sexual intercourse. There are many different types (strains) of HPV. Some strains lead to cervical cancer, other strains can cause genital warts, and others do not cause any problems at all.

Risk factors for cervical cancer include:

  • HPV infection
  • Family history of cervical cancer
  • Risky sexual practices (i.e., sex at an early age, multiple sexual partners)
  • Being economically disadvantaged
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Having a mother who took the drug diethylstilbestrol (DES) during pregnancy in the early 1960s to prevent miscarriage
  • Having a weakened immune system
  • Smoking
  • Chlamydia infection
  • Diet low in fruits and vegetables
  • Long-term use of birth control pills
  • IUD use
  • Having multiple full-term pregnancies
  • Being younger than 17 at first full-term pregnancy

Prevention

There is no guaranteed prevention against cervical cancer, but maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise and avoiding smoking and other tobacco products will reduce the risk of cervical cancer.

As part of our comprehensive approach to cancer prevention and education, Northside offers Built To Quit, a smoking and tobacco cessation program offering resources to help individuals quit smoking and stop using other tobacco products. For additional information, or to register for a cessation class, please call 404-780-7653 or email smokingcessation@northside.com.

2019 Built to Quit
Class Schedule (English)
2019 Built to Quit
Class Schedule (Spanish)

HPV Vaccine & Cervical Cancer Prevention

HPV vaccines help protect against most but not all cases of HPV cervical infections to prevent cervical cancer. The vaccine is given over six months to males and females ages 9-26. Talk to a health care provider to learn more about the vaccine.

Pap tests are crucial for early detection and treatment of cervical cancer. Women between the ages of 21 and 65 should have a Pap test at least once every three years.

Cancer Genetics Program

Northside Hospital’s Cancer Genetics Program is available to patients interested in genetic counseling and testing due to strong personal or family histories of gynecologic, colorectal or breast cancers. Our team, consisting of certified genetic counselors helps patients assess, understand and reduce the risk of developing certain types of genetically influenced cancers such as cervical cancer. For additional information, please call 404-851-6284 or email genetics@northside.com.

Cervical Cancer Screening & Diagnosis

Screening

The early diagnosis of cervical cancer increases the chances of treating the cancer successfully. It is recommended that women begin screening for cervical cancer at age 21. A gynecologist or primary care physician can perform both screenings during an annual well-woman exam.

Cervical cancer screening tests include:

  • Pap test (Pap smear) – A test that looks for cell changes in the cervix that may lead to cervical cancer. A gynecologist or primary care physician typically performs it during a woman’s annual exam. Subsequent Pap tests will be recommended based on a patient’s test results and age.
  • HPV DNA test – Testing of the cells obtained from the cervix during a pap test to look for HPV (human papillomavirus) which are most likely to lead to cervical cancer. This test may be an option for women age 30 and older, or for younger women with an abnormal Pap test.

Diagnosis

Cervical cancer is the third most common type of cancer in women. To detect cervical cancer at its earliest stage, women should have annual well-woman doctor visits, including regular pelvic exams. A primary care provider or gynecologist can recommend the right female cancer screenings and diagnostic tests based on age, lifestyle and family history.

In 2018, more than 110,000 women in the United States were estimated to be diagnosed with a GYN cancer – and more women trust Northside Hospital Cancer Institute Gynecologic Cancer Program for their cancer care than any other hospital provider in Georgia

Northside’s Gynecologic Cancer Program physicians use the following tests and procedures to diagnose endometrial or uterine cancer:

Team of Cervical Cancer Specialists

The strength of NHCI’s Gynecologic Cancer Program is our multidisciplinary team of dedicated, specially trained gynecologic oncology specialists who provide individualized care for each cervical cancer patient. Northside’s gynecologic cancer care team offers a comprehensive scope of medical services, the latest technology, leading-edge clinical research and compassionate support for cancer patients.

Our dedicated and experienced gynecologic oncologists and clinical experts are among the most experienced in the country. Northside Hospital Cancer Institute’s physicians are committed to providing comprehensive cancer care in a compassionate setting.

Our GYN cancer team of experts includes:

  • Gynecologic oncologists (provide surgery and systemic treatments)
  • Medical oncologists
  • Radiation oncologists
  • Radiologists
  • Pathologists
  • Certified genetic counselors
  • GYN nurse navigators
  • Clinical research nurses

Rollover the graphic for more information

Multidisciplinary 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Northside Hospital provides a forum for these cancer specialists to review radiology and pathology images and discuss the best Cervical Cancer Treatment Options, including clinical trials, and develop an evidence-based treatment plan for each patient. By prospectively discussing cancer cases during conference, patients get the benefit of more than a dozen expert medical opinions.

Cervical Cancer Treatment Options

Northside Hospital Cancer Institute’s Gynecologic Cancer Program leads the way in groundbreaking surgical procedures for better outcomes and less invasive treatments of cervical cancer.

Northside’s Gynecologic Cancer Program offers patients dedicated women-only surgery suites for breast and GYN surgery as well as an inpatient unit designed specifically for women diagnosed with a GYN cancer.

Cervical cancer treatment depends on the stage of the cancer, the size and shape of the tumor, the age and general health of the woman, and her desire to have children in the future.

For more information about cervical cancer treatments, please expand the content below.

Northside Hospital is the Southeast leader for total robotic procedures performed. Multiple minimally invasive laparoscopic and traditional surgical procedures are available at Northside Hospital Cancer Institute to treat a wide array of GYN conditions.

Many women with cervical cancer will face some type of surgery. Surgery can be used to help diagnose cervical cancer, help determine how far the cancer has spread or help treat the cancer (especially for earlier-stage cancers). Patients should speak to their doctor for more in depth details about what type of cervical cancer surgery is the best option for their needs.

The following types of surgery may be used to treat cervical cancer:

Chemotherapy or “chemo” uses medication to destroy cancer cells by stopping growth. For treatment of cervical cancer, a doctor may recommend chemotherapy as part of the overall treatment plan, or to treat cervical cancer that has spread or recurred.

At Northside's infusion centers, chemotherapy is provided on an outpatient basis by registered nurses who are certified in chemotherapy administration.

Questions to ask the doctor about chemotherapy treatment

Radiation therapy also called radiation oncology, uses high-energy rays X-rays to damage or kill cancer cells.

Radiation therapy may be used for cervical cancer as a part of the main treatment or to treat cervical cancer that has spread or come back after treatment. External beam radiation therapy (EBRT) and internal radiation therapy (brachytherapy) are the two types of radiation therapy most often used to treat cervical cancer.

Questions to ask the doctor about radiation therapy treatment

Learn more about our Radiation Oncology services.

Targeted therapy is a type of treatment that uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific cancer cells without harming normal cells. Each type of targeted therapy works differently, but all alter the way a cancer cell grows, divides, repairs itself, or interacts with other cells. Angiogenesis inhibitors can be used to treat advanced cervical cancer.

Clinical trials are studies that involve people and are a critical part of oncology research. These studies test new ways to prevent, detect, diagnose, or treat cancer. Patients who take part in cervical cancer clinical trials have an opportunity to contribute to scientists’ knowledge about cancer and to help in the development of improved cancer treatments. During these trials, these patients also receive state-of- the-art care from Northside’s nationally renowned oncology team.

Learn more about clinical trials at Northside Hospital

Learn more about NHCI Cancer Treatment Options

Cervical Cancer Support & Survivorship

Cervical cancer treatment and recovery can be overwhelming, which is why, at the Northside Hospital Cancer Institute Gynecologic Cancer Program, we have oncology nurse navigators to guide patients every step of the way after cancer diagnosis and through treatment. Northside’s registered oncology nurses work with radiologists, pathologists, surgeons, oncologists and other specialists to coordinate each cervical cancer treatment plan, educating and supporting cancer patients to make informed decisions.

Our oncology nurse navigators facilitate access to Northside Hospital Cancer Institute’s comprehensive portfolio of cancer patient support and survivorship services to ensure each cervical cancer patient receives coordinated and personalized care.

To learn more about oncology patient navigation or to speak with an oncology nurse navigator, please call 404-300-2800 or email nurse.navigator@northside.com.

Network of Hope / Woman to Woman - GYN Mentoring Program

The Network of Hope (NoH) program connects cancer patients with trained volunteers who have also faced cancer and embraced life afterward. Volunteer cancer survivors and caregivers are available to mentor cancer patients throughout their treatment.

In 2015, as part of a grant received from the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance, Northside Hospital Cancer Institute launched the Woman to Woman program as a specialty area within Network of Hope. Woman to Woman provides expanded mentoring support specifically for women with gynecologic cancers.

For more information about the Woman to Woman program please call 404-303-3676.

Learn more about all of the Cancer Support & Survivorship Resources available.