Cervical cancer

Overview for patients

The cervix is the lower, narrow end of the uterus (the organ where a fetus grows) and leads from the uterus to the vagina (birth canal).

The main types of cervical cancer are squamous cell carcinoma, which begins in the thin, flat cells that line the cervix, and adenocarcinoma, which begins in cervical cells that make mucus and other fluids.

Long-lasting infections with certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) cause almost all cases of cervical cancer. Vaccines that protect against infection with these types of HPV can greatly reduce the risk of cervical cancer. Having a Pap test to check for abnormal cells in the cervix or a test to check for HPV can find cells that may become cervical cancer. These cells can then be treated before cancer forms.

If found and treated in the early stages, cervical cancer can usually be cured.