Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of a woman’s cervix. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. It is nearly always caused by infection with human papillomavirus (HPV). Generally, cervical cancer occurs most often in women over age 30; however, any woman can be at risk. Unlike many types of cancer, there is a highly effective screening test and cervical cancer preventative measures that can be used.
If cervical cancer is found, it’s typically one of two different types:
- Squamous cell carcinoma - this is the most common type of cervical cancer with about 80% to 90% of all diagnoses in this category. These cancers start in the cells on the outer surface covering of the cervix.
- Adenocarcinoma - This type of cervical cancer makes up about 10% to 20% of diagnoses. These cancers start in the glandular cells that line the lower birth canal.
Because of the Pap test used for screening, gynecologists often find precancerous cells on the cervix's surface that are treated in a different process not discussed in this section.