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Cervical cancer

About 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 13,170 new cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed in the United States in 2019.

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. Most women do not develop cancer from abnormal cells.

Routine Pap screening has reduced the country's incidence of cervical cancer, which was once a leading cause of death. The Pap test may find changes in the cervix before cancer develops. It also may detect cervical cancer in its early stage.

Cervical cancer is almost exclusively caused by a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection; however, not everyone who has HPV will get cervical cancer.