Cervical cancer starts in the cervix which is the lower part of the womb, connecting the uterus to the birth canal (vagina). The upper part of the cervix is called endocervix and has glandular cells. The lower part of the cervix is called ectocervix which has squamous cells.
The transformation zone is the area where these two cell types (glandular and squamous) meet. Cervical cancer largely begins in the cells in this transformation zone.
The most common type of cervical cancer is squamous cell carcinomas (9 out of 10) that originate from the squamous cells in the ectocervix and mostly form in the transformation zone.
The rest 10% of the cervical cancers are adenocarcinomas that develop from the glandular cells in the endocervix. The least common type of cervical cancers is the mixed type or the adenosquamous carcinomas. Initially, the cells develop pre-cancerous changes that can be detected with PAP test.
All the cervical cancers are associated with human papillomavirus (HPV). However, not all women affected with HPV infection are likely to get cervical cancer. The highest incidence of cervical cancer has been reported in Africa, Latin America and Carribean with 84% of the cases occurring in the less developed countries.
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- World Cancer Research Fund International – Accessed on December 8, 2015 – http://www.wcrf.org/int/cancer-facts-figures/data-specific-cancers/breast-cancer-statistics
- American Cancer Society – Accessed on December 8, 2015 – http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/detailedguide/breast-cancer-signs-symptoms
- What you need to know about cervical cancer. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/cervix
- Cancer Research UK – Accessed on December 8, 2015 – http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/type/cervical-cancer/about/cervical-cancer-risks-and-causes