Conditions InDepth: Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is a disease in which cancer cells grow in the cervix. The cervix is the lower, narrow part of the uterus that connects the uterus with the vagina. It is the outlet of the uterus through which menses flow and babies are delivered. Normally, the cells of the cervix divide in a regulated manner. If cells keep dividing in an unregulated manner, a mass of tissue forms. This mass is called a tumor. A tumor can be benign or malignant. In the cervix, cancer can arise either from the squamous cells (squamous cell carcinoma) that line the outer surface of the cervix or the glandular cells that are found in the channel that connects to the rest of the womb (adenocarcinoma).

The Cervix
IMAGE
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

A benign tumor is not cancer. It will not spread to other parts of the body. A malignant tumor is cancer. Cancer cells divide and damage tissue around them. They can enter the bloodstream and spread to other parts of the body. This can be life threatening.

Pap smears are largely responsible for the significant decline in deaths from cervical cancer over the past 30-40 years. Despite this success, 11,270 women in the US still learn they have cervical cancer each year.

Cervical cancer comes in two major forms:

  • Squamous cell cancer—arises form the cells on the outermost portion of the cervix that connects with the vagina
  • Adenocarcinoma—arises from the gland cells that are found on the inner lining of the cervical canal

Squamous cancer is more common than adenocarinoma. Most cases of squamous cancer are associated with infection with a virus ( human papillomavirus or HPV), which, in addition to increasing the risk for cervical cancer, causes telltale changes in the cells of the cervix. These changes can be detected by Pap smear and indicate an increased risk for developing cervical cancer.

What are the risk factors for cervical cancer? | What are the symptoms of cervical cancer? | How is cervical cancer diagnosed? | What are the treatments for cervical cancer? | Are there screening tests for cervical cancer? | How can I reduce my risk of cervical cancer? | What questions should I ask my doctor? | What is it like to live with cervical cancer? | Where can I get more information about cervical cancer?

Revisions

All EBSCO Publishing proprietary, consumer health and medical information found on this site is accredited by URAC. URAC's Health Web Site Accreditation Program requires compliance with 53 rigorous standards of quality and accountability, verified by independent audits. To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at HLEditorialTeam@ebscohost.com.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Editorial Policy | Privacy Policy | Terms and Conditions | Support
Copyright © 2008 EBSCO Publishing. All rights reserved.

Every minute counts if you suspect someone is having a stroke. Immediate treatment saves lives and increases the chances for a successful recovery. Don’t wait. Call 911.