Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer develops in the lining of the cervix, the lower part of the uterus (womb) that enters the vagina (birth canal).

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Cervical Cancer

The cervix connects the body of the uterus to the vagina. The part of the cervix closest to the body of the uterus is called the endocervix. The part next to the vagina is the ectocervix. Most cervical cancers start where these 2 parts meet. Cervical cancers do not form suddenly. Normal cervical cells gradually develop precancerous changes that turn into cancer.

This process usually takes many years but sometimes can happen in less than a year. Most cervical cancer develops in flat, scaly surface cells that line the cervix (called squamous cell carcinomas). Few cases develop in glandular surface cells. The cause of cervical cancer is unknown. Infection with two types of human papilloma virus ( HPV), which is transmitted sexually, is strongly associated with cervical and vulvar cancer and is the primary risk factor.

Another factor is AIDS, it reduces the immune system’s ability to fight infection and increases the probability that precancerous cells will progress to cancer. Women who smoke cigarettes are twice as likely to develop cervical cancer. Chemicals in cigarette smoke may increase the risk by damaging cervical cells. Regular Pap tests and pelvic exams, can help your doctor find and treat the changing cells before they turn into cancer.

Other sources of information for these topics.

National Cervical Cancer Coalition
Information about the organization as well as on the Pap smear, HPV, treatment and emotional support.

National Cervical Cancer Public Education Campaign
National Cervical Cancer Public Education Campaign: You Need to Know. Facts About Cervical Cancer. Finding Cervical Cancer. Frequently Asked Questions ...

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