Cervical Cancer Facts

Overview | Statistics | Types of Cancer | Stages of Cancer

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What is cervical cancer?

Cervical Cancer Facts, facts on cervical cancer

Cervical cancer begins in the cervix. The cervix is the lower part of the womb, called the uterus. It opens to the vagina. Cervical cancer was once the number-one cause of death from cancer in women. Thanks to the Pap test, which can screen for this cancer, the number of women in the United States with cervical cancer has decreased dramatically. With the Pap test, doctors can also find changes in the cervix when they are still precancerous. It is the only gynecological cancer, currently, that can be prevented through routine screening.

Anatomy of the Cervix

To understand where your cancer is, it may help to know more about the cervix. The cervix is one part of your reproductive system. It is the lower part of your womb, also called the uterus. The cervix connects your uterus and vagina. And your vagina leads to the outside of your body and the vulva, which is the skin area where you have pubic hair. These are the other parts of your reproductive system. They are all in your pelvis.

  • Vagina
  • 2 ovaries
  • 2 fallopian tubes

Drawing: Female Reproductive System

The cervix has 2 parts. The outer part, closest to the vagina, is called the ectocervix. The inner part, closest to the uterus, is called the endocervix. Where these 2 parts meet is where most cervical cancers start. This is also called the transformation zone.

Many layers of cells make up the cervix. Two types of cells are on the surface of the cervix.

  • Squamous epithelial cells line the outer part of the cervix.
  • Columnar epithelial cells line the inner part of the cervix.

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