Overview and risk factors

About cervical cancer

At UW Health, we treat cervical cancer through the UW Carbone Cancer Center. It’s the only comprehensive cancer center in Wisconsin.

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.

View clinical trials available at UW Health

Find a clinical trial

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 UW Health. 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
Medical oncology
Radiation oncology


Care close to home

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

  • UW Carbone Cancer Center
    • 600 Highland Ave. / Madison, WI
    • Open now
    • The University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center is a pioneer in cancer research and quality patient care. It is the only comprehensive cancer center in Wisconsin, as designated by the National Cancer Institute.

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  • UW Carbone Cancer Clinic - 1 S. Park
    • 1 S. Park St. / Madison, WI
    • (608) 287-2552
    • Open now
      View hours, services and more
  • SwedishAmerican Regional Cancer Center
    • 3535 N Bell School Road / Rockford, IL
    • (779) 696-9400
    • Open now
    • Patients here have convenient local access to UW Health cancer specialists in areas such as breast cancer, head-and-neck cancer, endocrine cancer, and thoracic surgical and abdominal surgical oncology.

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  • Beloit Cancer Center
    • 1670 Lee Lane / Beloit, WI
    • Open now
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  • UW Health Johnson Creek
    UW Health Johnson Creek
    UW Cancer Center Johnson Creek
    • 250 Doctors Ct. / Johnson Creek, WI
    • (920) 699-3500
    • Open now
    • UW Cancer Center Johnson Creek offers the people of southeastern Wisconsin local access to leading-edge research and treatments offered by the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center in Madison.

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  • UW Cancer Center at ProHealth Care
    • N16 W24131 Riverwood Drive / Waukesha, WI
    • Open now
    • Partnered with the UW Carbone Cancer Center at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, UW Health Cancer Center at ProHealth Care offers world-class cancer care in a comforting setting close to home.

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UW Carbone Cancer Center

The experts at the UW Carbone Cancer Center intimately understand every type of cancer. We will get to know you and design a treatment plan that works for you and your family.

Learn more