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Cervical Cancer Facts

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

Early Detection Increases Survival

The American Cancer Society's most recent estimates for cervical cancer in the United States are for 2016:

  • About 12,900 new cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed.

Most cervical cancers begin in the cells lining the cervix. These cells do not suddenly change into cancer. Instead, the normal cells of the cervix first gradually develop pre-cancerous changes that turn into cancer. These changes can be detected by the Pap test. During a Pap test, a small sample of cells from the surface of the cervix is collected and then examined under a microscope. Cervical cancer cells and cervical pre-cancer cells are detected in this way. Doctors use several terms to describe pre-cancerous changes, including cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN), squamous intraepithelial lesion (SIL), and dysplasia.

The main types of cervical cancers are squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma.

Squamous cell carcinoma
Most cervical cancers are squamous cell carcinomas, which means they began in the lining of the cervix.

This is more rare form of cervical cancer. Instead of beginning in the lining of the cervix, it begins in the glands which produce cervical mucus.

When caught early, cervical cancer is curable. Even when cervical cancer is discovered at later -- or more advanced -- stages, more than 70% of women will survive this cancer. When cervical cancer spreads to other organs, however, the chances for survival go down. This is why early detection is so important.

Source: American Cancer Society: What is cervical cancer?

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