Cervical Cancer

What is cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix, the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. When abnormal cells on the surface of the cervix spread deeper into the cervix, or to other tissues or organs, the disease is then called cervical cancer, or invasive cervical cancer. Cervical cancer occurs most often in women younger than 50. 
The main types of cervical cancer are:
  • Squamous cell carcinoma. This type of cervical cancer begins in the thin, flat cells (squamous cells) lining the outer part of the cervix, which projects into the vagina. Most cervical cancers are squamous cell carcinomas.
  • Adenocarcinoma. This type of cervical cancer begins in the column-shaped glandular cells that line the cervical canal.
Stages of cervical cancer include:
  • Stage I. Cancer is confined to the cervix.
  • Stage II. Cancer is present in the cervix and upper portion of the vagina.
  • Stage III. Cancer has moved to the lower portion of the vagina or internally to the pelvic side wall.
  • Stage IV. Cancer has spread to nearby organs, such as the bladder or rectum, or it has spread to other areas of the body, such as the lungs, liver or bones.
Risk factors
  • An irregular screening history. Women who have not regularly had a Pap test (smear) are at increased risk of cervical cancer.
  • HPV Infection. Cervical infection with HPV is the primary risk factor for cervical cancer. 
  • Sexual History. Females who begin having sexual intercourse before the age of 16 and females who have had many sexual partners are at a higher risk of HPV infection and developing cervical cancer. 
  • Smoking is associated with an increased risk of cervical cancer.
  • HIV Infection. Women who have been infected with HIV have a higher-than-average risk of developing cervical cancer.
  • Other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and HIV/AIDS increases your risk of HPV.
  • A weak immune system is more likely to develop cervical cancer.
  • Family history of cervical cancer: Women have a higher chance of cervical cancer if a relative also has been diagnosed.
Diagnosis involves Pap tests and biopsies such as:
  • Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) uses an electric wire loop to obtain a piece of tissue so it can be examined under a microscope.
  • Colposcopy uses a colposcope with magnifying lenses to examine the cervix for abnormalities. 
  • Endocervical curettage uses a curette to scrape the lining of the endocervical canal. 
  • Cone biopsy (conization) uses the loop electrosurgical excision or the cold knife cone biopsy procedure to remove a larger, cone-shaped piece of tissue from the cervix. 
  • HPV DNA test detects the presence of cervical HPV infection. 
  • Cold knife cone biopsy uses a laser or a surgical scalpel to remove a piece of cervical tissue for further examination. 
Treatment depends on several factors, such as the stage of the cancer, other health problems. Surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or a combination of the three may be used.
  • About 80-90% are squamous cell carcinomas, while 10-20% are adenocarcinomas.
  • It occurs most often in women over age 30.
  • Women are 2-3x more likely to get cervical cancer if their mother or sister had cervical cancer.
  • Each year, about 12,000 women in the United States get cervical cancer and about 4,000 women die from it.


about cervical cancer


  • "Cervical Cancer." Cervical Cancer | Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library. Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library, n.d. Web. 01 May 2017.
  • "Cervical Cancer." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 06 Mar. 2017. Web. 01 May 2017.
  • "Cervical Cancer Symptoms, Signs & Treatment." Cleveland Clinic. Cleveland Clinic, n.d. Web. 01 May 2017.
  • "Cervical Cancer." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 30 June 2016. Web. 01 May 2017.
  • "Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and Cervical Cancer." World Health Organization. World Health Organization, June 2016. Web. 01 May 2017.


In honor of Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, team heatheo360 put together an infographic to further spread the ways in which to prevent cervical cancer and to distribute crucial information about the disease.
cervical cancer awareness month


NOTE: The information on this page and any information found on healtheo360 is not a substitution for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you think you may have a medical emergency, CALL 911 immediately. See additional information about our Terms & Conditions.