Cervical cancer is a malignant tumor that originates in the cells of the cervix. But, with time, without appropriate treatment, the malignancy can spread (metastasize) to other body parts, making healing or survival more difficult. Fortunately with active campaigns for early detection and prevention, the disease is now diagnosed early, in a great majority of cases, before occurrence of symptoms. Please see cervical cancer symptoms for more information.
Cervical cancer screening, searching for precancerous lesions through the practice of Pap screening, allows health professionals to detect the disease in its early stage, thus preventing complications. The discovery of precancerous lesions, including severe dysplasia or carcinoma in situ, allows treatment to ensure healing of the patient with a very low rate of recidivism.
But global cervical cancer statistics show the disease is more common and deadly in certain parts of the world. In certain developing countries, mostly in Africa, the tumor is one of the top killers. It is estimated that three quarters of cases occur in developing countries where programs for screening and treatment are somehow inadequate or neglected. Another cause can be unsafe sex.
Cervical cancer and sex (without protection) should not be neglected due to the fact HPV infection is one of the leading causes of the disease.
Being the narrow lower part of the uterus (womb), the cervix is an important organ of the female reproductive system. It is the passage connecting the uterus to the vagina, the stretchablecanalthat connects the cervixto the outside of the body.
In normal condition, the cells of the cervix live and die according to a programmed cellular death called apoptosis. But sometimes, due certain carcinogenic conditions, some cells undergo changes that cause them to behave or grow abnormally. These changes can lead to the development of benign tumors (non cancerous): polyps, fibroids, and others.
The same, a group of cells can behave abnormally to form a precancerous condition called dysplasia of the cervix or cervical dysplasia. In this medical condition, the cells are not cancerous, but their risk of becoming malignant is higher. Cervical dysplasia is a common precancerous condition that tends to transform into cancer if left treated. Fortunately, most women diagnosed with the disease are successfully treated before formation of cancer. However, in some cases, changes in cervical cells can cause cancer; thus, the importance of adopting a good cervical cancer prevention method.
Most Cervical cancer are squamous cell carcinomas, they develop in the thin and flat cells of the cervix, which are part of the lining of the cervix uteri (Latin: neckof the uterus) that recover its surface. This cancer has the name epidermoid carcinoma of the cervix or cervical squamouscellcarcinoma. Cancer can also originate in glandular cells that produce mucus. These cells line the inner part of the cervixuteri; this is called adenocarcinoma of the cervix.
Other rare types of cervical cancer that may also occur include Adenosquamous carcinoma, also called mixed carcinoma; and carcinoma vitreous cells.