Cervical Cancer Information
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What Is Cervical Cancer?
Cervical cancer begins in the cervix, the narrow organ at the bottom of the uterus that connects to the vagina. The cervix dilates during childbirth to allow for passage of a baby.
The American Cancer Society estimates there were 12,200 new cases of cervical cancer diagnosed in the United States in 2010.
Routine Pap screening has reduced the incidence of cervical cancer in the United States, which was once a leading cause of death. The Pap test can find changes in the cervix before cancer develops. It can also detect cervical cancer in its earliest stage.
Types of Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer starts when the cells that line the cervix begin to develop abnormal changes. Over time, these abnormal cells may become cancerous or they may return to normal. The majority of women do not develop cancer from abnormal cells.
There are two main types of cervical cancer: squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. Each one is distinguished by the appearance of cells under a microscope.
Squamous cell carcinomas begin in the thin, flat cells that line the bottom of the cervix. This type of cervical cancer accounts for 80 to 90 percent of cervical cancers.
Adenocarcinomas develop in the glandular cells that line the upper portion of the cervix. These cancers make up 10 to 20 percent of cervical cancers.
Sometimes, both types of cells are involved in cervical cancer. Other types of cancer can develop in the cervix, but these are rare.
Metastatic cervical cancer is cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.
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