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Cervical cancer

Cervical cancer types

Every cervical cancer patient is different. The cancer experts at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) have extensive experience in properly staging and diagnosing the disease, and developing a treatment plan that's tailored to each patient’s specific type 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. Most women do not develop cancer from abnormal cells.

Cervical cancer is divided into two main types: squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. Each 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 about 80 percent of cervical cancers.

Adenocarcinomas of the cervix develop in the glandular cells that line the upper portion of the cervix. Cervical adenocarcinomas make up about 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. For example, metastatic cervical cancer starts in the cervix and spreads to other parts of the body.

Next topic: What are the stages of cervical cancer?