Questions and answers

As questions come in, I will add them to this Q & A section. Feel free to ask anything, and I will find the answer.

Q) Does the risk of cervical cancer go away with menopause?

A) Great question! No, it is still possible to have cervical cancer after menopause. Hormones like estrogen and progesterone, which decrease after menopause, do not affect cervical cancer one way or the other. The incidence decreases after about 50 years old, but that's probably because our natural immune systems have been exposed to HPV and put it to sleep already. Unfortunately, a lot of women think that they don't need Pap smears after menopause, but 20% of cervical cancer occurs in women over 70 years old.

Q) Should I have a hysterectomy after I have children if I previously had cervical cancer?

A) No, there is no need to have a hysterectomy. I assume that your previous surgeries got all the cancer and your Pap smears are now normal. Keep seeing your doctor regularly, but you can keep your uterus!

Q) Doesn't cervical tissue grow back after surgery? Your cervix doesn't permanently stay shorter!

A) No, tissue does not grow back to replace what was removed in surgery. Tissue heals, but that's not the same as growing back. Your cervix will be permanently up to 1-2 centimeters shorter. Whether this affects future pregnancies or not depends mostly on how much cervix length nature gave you.

Q) Can the HPV vaccines help treat cervical cancer?

A) No. Once you have cervical cancer, the vaccine won't do anything for you. The vaccine is supposed to prevent HPV from causing cancer. If you have cervical cancer, surgery to cut out the tumor and then your own immune system taking control of HPV are what is necessary.

Q) Can cervical cancer spread into ovarian cancer?

A) No. There are studies that have looked at how cervical cancer spreads, and while it does spread into the abdomen and elsewhere in the body, it does not become ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer starts in the ovaries and, if not caught, spreads, too, but one cancer does not become another type of cancer.

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