The uterus is a hollow, pear-shaped organ of the female reproductive system; it is sometimes referred to as the womb. It is the organ that houses and protects a developing fetus during pregnancy. The term uterine cancer refers to cancers affecting the uterus, endometrium and cervix. Endometrial cancer is cancer of the endometrium, the inside lining of the uterus. The most common symptom is irregular bleeding. Diagnosis typically involves a biopsy of the endometrium. Cervical cancer is cancer of the cervix, the opening to the vagina located at the base of the uterus. Usually patients with cervical cancer do not experience symptoms until the cancer is advanced and has spread. A Pap smear is a test that can detect dysplasia and early forms of cervical cancer that have not yet spread. Most women diagnosed today with cervical cancer have either not had regular Pap smears or they have not followed up after having an abnormal Pap result. Symptoms of cervical cancer include, vaginal bleeding, especially after intercourse, pelvic pain, and vaginal discharge. It is recommended that women have regular gynecologic examinations that include a Pap smear.
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