Donate to Cervical Cancer Research, Patient Care and Education

Cervical cancer is a form of cancer that affects a woman’s cervix — the lower part of the uterus that connects the uterus to the vagina. Abnormal cell growth in the uterus, called dysplasia, is not necessarily cervical cancer, but it can develop into cervical cancer if left untreated. Once dysplasia develops into cancer, it can take one of three different forms:

  • Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common form of cervical cancer. It begins in the thin surface level cells of the cervix.
  • Adenocarcinoma begins in the opening of the uterus in the gland cells of the endocervix.
  • Mixed carcinoma cervical cancer is a combination of the other two forms, taking root in both the surface of the cervix and in the endocervix.  

Your gift to Northwestern Memorial Foundation makes an impact in diagnosing, treating and funding research toward finding a cure for all types of cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer can be difficult to spot early because the symptoms are often mild in nature and may not surface at all prior to dysplasia-affected cells becoming cancerous. The symptoms can also be like those of other conditions. These symptoms include a watery or otherwise unusual vaginal discharge, abnormal vaginal bleeding after sexual intercourse or in between periods, heavier flow during periods, periods lasting longer than normal, vaginal bleeding after menopause, as well as abnormal pain in the pelvic area during sex or with seemingly no cause.  These symptoms may point to cervical cancer, but they are also emblematic of other conditions. More research is needed to improve the way we detect and diagnose cervical cancer. When you donate to Northwestern Memorial Foundation, you will be a crucial part in helping fund that research.

The leading cause of cervical cancer is Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), a group of 150 related viruses, some of which are associated with genital warts. HPV is surprisingly common and often improves over time and may not even show symptoms. However, certain risk factors may cause HPV to lead to cervical cancer. These include being overweight, smoking, use of oral contraceptives, early sexual activity or having many sexual partners, contracting other sexually transmitted diseases, a weakened immune system, multiple full-term pregnancies, becoming pregnant before the age of 17, or a family history of cervical cancer.  Women who have been diagnosed with HPV need more frequent examinations to monitor any changes in the cervix. Your contribution to Northwestern Memorial Foundation ensures these patients continue to have access to the best possible care to catch potentially cancerous abnormalities.

Pelvic exams are crucial because they help detect irregularities on the cervix, uterus, ovaries, vagina and vulva, as are regular pap smears, because they detect cancerous cells on the cervix. If cancer seems likely, further tests can eliminate the suspicion or provide a diagnosis in a timely way to start treatment early, therefore increasing the chances of successfully eradicating it.

Cervical Cancer Research, Patient Care and Education Donation

Treatment options for cervical cancer range from surgery to chemotherapy or radiation therapy, and the options available to a given patient depend heavily on factors including the extent of the disease and overall health. When you support Northwestern Memorial Foundation, you are ensuring that physicians on the medical staff continue to offer the best treatments available for patients with cervical cancer. Cancers of all kinds remain difficult to treat, as there is no known cure other than removing or killing cancerous cells, and even then, they may still grow back. This is perhaps the area of medicine most in need of further research, and, therefore, donations to Northwestern Medicine are profoundly helpful in improving the lives of patients living with cancer.

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