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Cervical cancer

The commonest form of gynaecological cancer. Estimates of the frequency of its occurrence are difficult because cancer is not a notifiable disease. Much research has been undertaken about risk factors. It seems that women who were sexually active at an early age and who have had a lot of partners are at risk. Jewish women are rarely affected, possibly through hereditary immunity or male circumcision. Cervical cancer is practically never found in women who live a life of strict celibacy, such as nuns. The disease can be detected at an early stage by a smear test. If the cancer is restricted to the surface of the cervix the chance of recovery is almost 100 per cent. The spread of cervical cancer is divided into stages; in the later stages the cancer is larger and/or metastasized. Symptoms occur only in the later stages: irregular menstruation, loss of blood during sexual intercourse, pain and vaginal discharge. Treatment depends on the stage of development of the cancer. If it is restricted to the cervix an operation is possible; if it has advanced further, treatment is by radiotherapy. To detect cervical cancer at an early stage it is important for women over the age of 25 to have a cervical smear every two years, more frequently for women in the high-risk groups. If there is an indication of inflammation or something similar it is possible to make a more thorough examination with a

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