Cervical Cancer

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Cervical cancer is the term for a malignant neoplasm arising from cells originating in the cervix uteri. One of the most common symptoms of cervical cancer is abnormal vaginal bleeding, but in some cases there may be no obvious symptoms until the cancer has progressed to an advanced stage. Treatment usually consists of surgery (including local excision) in early stages, and chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy in more advanced stages of the disease.

Cancer screening using the Pap smear can identify precancerous and potentially precancerous changes in cervical cells and tissue. Treatment of high-grade changes can prevent the development of cancer in many victims. In developed countries, the widespread use of cervical screening programs has reduced the incidence of invasive cervical cancer by 50% or more.[citation needed]

Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection appears to be a necessary factor in the development of almost all cases (90+%) of cervical cancer. HPV vaccines effective against the two strains of this large family of viruses that currently cause approximately 70% of cases of cervical cancer have been licensed in the U.S, Canada, Australia and the EU. Since the vaccines only cover some of the cancer causing ("high-risk") types of HPV, women should seek regular Pap smear screening, even after vaccination.

The cervix is the narrow portion of the uterus where it joins with the top of the vagina. Most cervical cancers are squamous cell carcinomas, arising in the squamous (flattened) epithelial cells that line the cervix. Adenocarcinoma, arising in glandular epithelial cells is the second most common type. Very rarely, cancer can arise in other types of cells in the cervix.

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