Share this page

Health Library

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


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?

References:

American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/docroot/home/index.asp. Accessed January 3, 2014.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov. Accessed January 3, 2014.

Cervical cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated December 7, 2013. Accessed January 3, 2014.

Grady D. Guidelines push back age for cervical cancer tests. The New York Times website. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/20/health/20pap.html?_r=1. Published November 20, 2009. Accessed January 3, 2014.

National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov. Accessed January 3, 2014.



Last reviewed January 2014 by Michael Woods, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Baptist Flame

Baptist Health Systems

Find A Doctor

Services

Locations

Baptist Medical Clinic

Patients & Visitors

Learn

Contact Us

Physician Tools

Careers at Baptist

Employee Links

Online Services

At Baptist Health Systems

At Baptist Medical Center

close ×