Moving Soon. Contents of this site will soon live at

Ask a Doc

Ask a question | Browse | Most recent

Risk of Cervical Cancer questions

A. Pierson Asks:

Is it true that a conventional PAP/ThinPrep test will NOT diagnose cervical adenocarcinoma since this cancer originates in the cervical glands and a sample of cells is only taken from the endocervical outer layer during the test?

Thank you for your assistance!

Chances for a false negative Pap test is higher for adenocarcinoma than for standard squamous lesions.  This is due to a number of issues, including the likelihood sampling is less adequate due to these lesions often being further up in the cervical canal and thus harder to reach and collect. It does not mean that a Pap test never diagnoses adenocarcinoma, however. It is important for women to see their healthcare provider every year for an annual check up and to get regular Pap tests and HPV tests as recommended.


Kimbo Asks:

I have precancerous cells caused by HPV & I have a appt. for LEEP Surgery in one month. Is it ok to have sex with my boyfriend before I have the LEEP? Will sex aggravate my HPV condition before the surgery? Are there negative consequences for my boyfriend for having sex with me before the surgery?

Chances are that your partner has the same HPV types that you have.  Most experts think that the HPV virus doesn't 'ping-pong' back and forth between the same partners, so you shouldn't make it worse by having sex before the LEEP procedure.  But please talk to your doctor about these questions and how you can reduce your risk of having the HPV infection return. 

J Asks:

Can smoking increase your chances of getting cervical cancer if you have hpv?

A woman who smokes has a higher chance of getting cervical cancer. Research has shown that the cervix is affected by the nicotine in cigarettes in much the same way as the lungs.  It is also known that cigarettes can impair the immune system’s ability to fight infection.  So if you have HPV, you should definitely think about quitting. It will help you prevent that HPV infection from developing to the stage of cancer.

Brooke Asks:

I am 45+, tested HPV positive 2 years ago along w/Pap that showed mild dysplasia. Have been followed every 6 months, including colposcopy. After 2 years of watching, HPV test was negative but mild dysplasia continues. Does this negative HPV test improve chances that dysplasia will clear on its own?

While there are no good prospective trials to support this, the simple answer is likely yes- this is a good sign your body is clearing the infection on its own and the dysplasia will likely regress as well.  However, you still need to have regular follow-up check ups with your provider and follow his/her recommendations.

ali Asks:

Does the virus increase as a result of sex with my boyfriend ? Should I avoid having sex with him anymore if I want my immune system to clear it off?

No, there is no scientific evidence that increased sexual exposures with the same partner will increase your risk for cervical cancer. 

clnchr Asks:

i was just dx with hpv...dr. told me it is one of the types that are high risk for cancer. she couldnt tell me what type for some reason..but my pap was normal. what can i do besides my annual pap (that i will never forget to do every year),to make sure i do not get abnormal cells?? ty

HPV is a really common virus. Nearly 80% of all women will have an HPV infection during their lifetime.  Our knowledge of how HPV acts in your body is not yet entirely clear.  It can clear up and not show up again. It can clear up and then return. And it can just hang around as a persistent infection.  In any of these cases, your best bet for reducing your risk of having the HPV infection grow into cancer are similar.  You can reduce your risk by practicing healthy lifestyle habits like eating well, exercising and not smoking. If you smoke, quit.  Smoking has been shown to significantly increase the likelihood of a persistent HPV infection turning into cancer. And make sure you follow your doctor's advice and have regular check ups. 

Rondalynn Asks:

If a woman had mild dysplasia, had cryotherapy for treatment, then 10 years later had her cervix removed during a hysterectomy, can she still develop cervical cancer?

The answer to your question depends on why you had a hysterectomy.

·                                 If you had a hysterectomy to treat cervical cancer, you should continue to have regular Pap tests to make sure the cancer hasn’t come back.

·                                 If you had a hysterectomy to treat pre-cancerous changes in your cervix, you should continue to have regular tests for at least a few years after the surgery.

·                                 If you had a hysterectomy where your cervix was not removed (called a subtotal or supracervical hysterectomy), you should have regular tests until you are at least 70 years old. Since your cervix wasn’t removed, there is still a chance, albeit small, that you could develop cervical cancer.

·                                 If you had a total hysterectomy (the entire uterus, including the cervix was removed) for a reason other than cancer or pre-cancer, you may not need to have the Pap or HPV test any more. Check with your doctor first, since some conditions may mean that you should continue to be tested.

·                                 If you had a hysterectomy and have an immune system disease (such as infection with HIV) or are taking medicines that suppress your immune system (such as after a kidney transplant), you may be more likely to develop diseases as a result of your HPV infection. You should be tested regularly.

You should discuss your situation and your risk factors for HPV infection with your health care provider. No matter what you decide about the Pap and HPV tests, you should continue to have regular pelvic exams.

Dionne Asks:

What can be done to boost the immune system to fight off the virus &/or cell changes?

The obvious ways to make sure that your immune system is strong are to take care of your health by eating a well-balanced diet, exercising and not smoking.  Those healthful behaviors affect us in so many ways. 

Marte Asks:

I have most of the symptoms of cervical cancer. What do I do?

Your question sounds urgent!  In its early stages, cervical cancer or early cervical pre-cancerous abnormalities usually have no signs or symptoms. That's why it's important to get Pap tests regularly. Symptoms usually do not show up until the cancer becomes invasive and grows into nearby tissue. The most common symptoms at this stage are:


  • Unusual discharge from the vagina
  • Blood spots or light bleeding when you're not having your period
  • Bleeding or pain during sex


Additional symptoms may occur. These include:

  • Anemia because of abnormal vaginal bleeding.
  • Ongoing pelvic, leg, or back pain.
  • Urinary problems because of blockage of a kidney or ureter.
  • Bleeding from the rectum or bladder.
  • Weight loss.

If these are the symptoms you are experiencing, speak to your healthcare provider right away!  Don't ignore the symptoms. Don't waste any time in contacting your physician. Ignoring the symptoms can give the cancer time to grow into a more advanced stage and lower your chance for the treatment to be effective.


However, you should realize that just because you have these symptoms doesn't mean you have cervical cancer. You can have these symptoms for other reasons. Nevertheless, it is important to check with your healthcare provider to find out what's causing them. Finding cervical cancer early means you have a better chance of the treatment being successful.

return to top of page return to top of page