Cervical cancer occurs when the cells of the cervical lining develop abnormally into cancerous cells. The cervix is in the lower, narrow end of the uterus (the womb) and connects to the vagina (birth canal). Cervical cancer is one of the most easily diagnosed and regularly screened types of gynecologic cancer.
Cervical cancer tends to develop slowly. It can start with changes in the cells that can develop from sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV) or other types of precancerous cervical cells. Over time, abnormal cervical tissue may become cancerous. Early treatment for abnormal cells can ensure that cervical cancer does not develop or spread to other parts of your body.
The Pap Test
Screening cervical tissue increases your chances of prevention and recovery. During a gynecologic exam, your doctor performs a Pap test by gently scraping a tiny amount of cervical cells for examination under a microscope and testing for the HPV virus. This is an effective screening test for HPV and precancerous cells, which can lead to cervical cancer.