Cervical cancer is one of the more common cancers of the female reproductive system. Most cervical cancers are linked to infection by HPV (human papillomavirus).
Cervical cancer is defined as a disease in which cells of the cervix, the lower part of the uterus adjoining the vagina, become malignant, forming a tumor or tumors. It is usually a slow-growing cancer that may not have symptoms but can be found with regular Pap tests (a procedure in which cells are scraped from the cervix and viewed under a microscope).
Approximately 80 percent of cervical cancers are classified as squamous cell carcinomas, which arise from cells in the exocervix (the part closest to the vagina), while about 15 percent are adenocarcinomas, which arise from a different type of cell in the endocervix (the part further away from the vagina). In rare circumstances, cervical cancers may exhibit involvement of both cell types; these are known as adenosquamous carcinomas.