Overview and risk factors

About cervical cancer

At the UW Health | Carbone Cancer Center we provide support and the most advanced treatments available. We are one of only a few centers in the U.S. who offer trachelectomy, a cervical cancer treatment for potential candidates that keeps your uterus intact if you hope to one day carry a child.

HPV and cervical cancer

Infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is spread through sex, is the main cause of cervical cancer. If you’re infected with HPV, these factors may add to your risk of developing cervical cancer:

  • Giving birth to more than two children

  • Long-term use of birth control pills

  • Smoking cigarettes 

Other risk factors include: 

  • Being sexually active at a young age

  • Having a weakened immune system

  • Having many sexual partners

Getting an HPV vaccine can help prevent cervical cancer.

Tests and prevention

Screening for prevention and early detection

Cervical cancer is a disease we can find early, thanks to screening. Screening may even prevent some cancers from occurring. If tests find abnormal cells in your cervix, we can treat them before they turn into cancer.

Screening tests include the Pap test and human papillomavirus (HPV) testing. We may use these tests alone or together. In most cases, screening should begin when you are 21 and continue until you are at least 65. Learn more about screening.

Treatments and research

Fighting cancer with every available tool

Methods and studies that support treatment

Your treatment may depend on how advanced your cancer is. Factors such as your general health and your goals and preferences are considered as well. In many cases, you’ll receive more than one type of therapy.

Brachytherapy is a type of internal radiation. It involves placing a radiation source into your vagina or cervix. The radiation source is left in place for a short time and then removed. You have several treatments that are scheduled once or twice a week.

Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. These drugs travel throughout your body. They treat cancer cells in your cervix and those that may have escaped to other parts of your body.

Abdominal radical hysterectomy is a procedure that removes your uterus, cervix and part of the vagina through an incision in your lower abdomen. Surgeons may also remove the ovaries, fallopian tubes and nearby lymph nodes.

Trachelectomy is surgery to remove your cervix. It does not remove your uterus. The surgery preserves your ability to have a child should you chose to. Not everyone is a candidate for Trachelectomy. UW Health is one of only a few places in the country to offer this procedure.

Find a clinical trial

We invite you to explore active trials at UW Health and learn how to get involved.

Find a clinical trial
Three sets of hands holding a yellow ribbon symbolizing cancer
UW Health | Carbone Cancer Center
Patient Guide

To help you feel comfortable during your stay at the UW Health | Carbone Cancer Center, we invite you to learn about our facility and the services we offer.

Meet our team

Specialized care you don’t find everywhere

If you have cervical cancer, you’ll receive expert care from gynecologic, medical and radiation oncologists at the UW Health | Carbone Cancer Center. They make sure you get the treatments that are just right for you.

Joining your doctors are physician assistants, nurses and health psychologists. Others include genetic counselors, registered dietitians and chaplains. They work together to attack your cancer and help you have the best quality of life during and after treatment.

Gynecologic oncology
Radiation oncology


Care close to home

The UW Health | Carbone Cancer Center provides care throughout Wisconsin and northern Illinois. Not all cancers are treated at every location; however, we will make every effort to connect you with care at a location convenient to you.