A National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center


Patient Stories



Episode Five: Cervical Cancer

Episode Five: Cervical Cancer

Download Episode Five to your computer or preferred device (mp3, 25.3 MB)
27 minutes. Originally aired on January 12, 2010.
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Since the Pap test was introduced in 1947, the number of women with cervical cancer in the United States has gone down drastically—by 75%. This easy, inexpensive, accurate, and painless test detects early changes in the cells of the cervix. These changes, a pre-cancerous condition known as dysplasia, are completely treatable if found early. If left untreated, dysplasia can develop into cervical cancer. That is why routine screening with a Pap test is so important.

In this episode, Dr. Leslie R. DeMars, Director of the Gynecologic Cancer Program at the Cancer Center, discusses cervical cancer and Pap tests, as well as HPV (human papillomavirus). HPV is the cause of almost all cervical cancers. Dr. DeMars says that testing for HPV has made Pap tests even more accurate, and a vaccine is available to prevent HPV infection. This vaccine, the first cancer vaccine ever approved, is recommended for girls aged 11 and 12.

Joining Dr. DeMars and host Jack Heath is a cervical cancer survivor named Theresa. Theresa was diagnosed in November 2008, and underwent a radical hysterectomy for her treatment. That was followed by chemotherapy and radiation, which is needed by only 15% of women with cervical cancer. Theresa talks about her experience, beginning before her diagnosis, and shares with listeners that she is now doing very well and is back at work.