Could I Have Cervical Cancer?
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I have gone through menopause and haven't had a period for almost 15 years. Now I'm having one. Why? Could I have cervical cancer?
— Barb, Nova Scotia
Bleeding from the vagina after menopause always requires medical evaluation. Although there are non-cancer causes for bleeding (menopause-related thinning of the vagina, called atrophy, is one), you will need some testing to determine whether the cause of your bleeding is a cancer. One of the most common causes of bleeding after menopause is endometrial cancer, a cancer of the cells that make up the lining of the uterus. Although other cancers such as cervical cancer, vaginal cancer, and sometimes ovarian or fallopian tube cancer may cause bleeding after menopause, endometrial cancer is the most likely cancer to do so.
You should be seen by a gynecologist and have a pelvic examination. You probably will have a Pap smear (a screening test for cervical cancer). If the cervix appears potentially cancerous, you may need a biopsy of the cervix. Because of the possibility of endometrial cancer, your doctor will likely recommend a special sonogram where the probe goes inside the vagina (a transvaginal sonogram) to look at the lining of the uterus (the endometrium). Your doctor will also probably recommend an endometrial biopsy. If the endometrial biopsy shows cancer cells, you probably will require surgery. In this situation, you should discuss with your gynecologist the option of referral to a surgical specialist, a gynecologic oncologist, for further management.
Video: Cervical Cancer Symptoms Awareness Video
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