The cervix is the lower,
narrow end of the uterus (the
hollow, pear-shaped organ where a fetus grows). The cervix leads from the uterus to
the vagina (birth canal).
Cervical cancer usually develops slowly over time. Before cancer
appears in the cervix, the cells of
the cervix go through changes known as dysplasia, in which cells that are not normal
begin to appear in the cervical tissue. Later, cancer cells start to grow and
spread more deeply into the cervix and to surrounding areas.
Cervical cancer in children is rare. For more information, see the PDQ summary on Unusual Cancers of Childhood.
Infection of the cervix with human
papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common cause of cervical
cancer. Not all women with HPV infection, however, will develop cervical
cancer. Women who do not regularly have a Pap
smear to detect HPV or abnormal cells in the cervix are at
increased risk of cervical cancer.
Other possible risk factors include the following:
Early cervical cancer may not cause noticeable signs or
symptoms. Women should have yearly
check-ups, including a Pap smear to check for abnormal cells in the cervix. The
prognosis (chance of recovery) is
better when the cancer is found early.
These and other symptoms may be caused by cervical cancer. Other conditions may cause the same symptoms. A doctor should be consulted if any of the following problems
The following procedures may be used:
The prognosis (chance of recovery) depends on the following:
Treatment options depend on the following:
Treatment of cervical cancer during pregnancy depends on the stage
of the cancer and the stage of the pregnancy. For cervical cancer found early
or for cancer found during the last trimester of pregnancy, treatment may be
delayed until after the baby is born.
© Copyright 1996 - 2013 H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute