The cervix, also called neck of the uterus, is a cylindrical-shaped organ that protrudes through the upper anterior vaginal wall. It separates the uterus from the vagina. The interior of the cervix is highly vascular. It has an internal cavity that contains a series of pockets called cervical crypts; their mainfunction is to produce cervical fluid. The uterine cervix (also called neck of the uterus) plays an important role in reproductive functions in women. It is within the body of the uterus that the fetus develops after fertilization of an ovum by a spermatozoon.
The cervix is formed by a group of cells that divide and multiply harmoniously. Cervical cancer occurs when some of the normal cells mutate (damage) and divide uncontrollably. Without a curative intervention, these cells continue to grow into a mass or malignant tumor. These cancer cells can remain within the cervix or spread through the lymphatic system or bloodstream to reach other distant organs and form new tumors called metastases.
Cervical cancer may rise from the cells that line the cervix cavity or the epithelial cells of the opening of the cervix. Depending on the tissue (group of cells) affected or the characteristic of the tumor, a cervical cancer can be:
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Cervix – this type of cervical cancer develops from a group of thin and flat cells that line the bottom of the cervix called squamous cells. Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common form of cancer of the cervix, represents 80 to 90% of cervical cancers.
- Adenocarcinoma – this type of cervical cancer develops within the canal that leads from the vagina to the uterine cavity, especially on the tissues that cover and protect the surface of the cervix uteri . Adenocarcinoma is responsible for 10 to 20 percent of cervical cancers.