Conditions InDepth: Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is cancer that starts in the cervix. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus (womb). It connects the uterus with the vagina.

Cancer is the out-of-control growth of cells. These cells can grow together and form a tumor. They can invade and damage nearby tissues. Cancer cells can also spread to other parts of the body. The most common sites for spread are the bones, liver, and lungs.

Most cervical cancer is linked to human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a sexually transmitted infection. A lasting HPV infection can cause changes in cervical cells. These changes can lead to cancer. HPV is very common but does not always lead to cervical cancer. Cervical cancer can also happen without HPV.

Cancer Cell Growth

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The Cervix

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Types of Cervical Cancer

The 2 main types of cervical cancer are:

  • Squamous cell (most common)—begins in the outer part of the cervix
  • Adenocarcinoma—begins in the inner lining of the cervix


Cervical cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed April 19, 2021.
Cervical cancer. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at:
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Accessed April 19, 2021.
Hu Z, Ma D. The precision prevention and therapy of HPV-related cervical cancer: new concepts and clinical implications. Cancer Med. 2018 Oct;7(10):5217-5236.
General information about cervical cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: Accessed April 19, 2021.
What is cervical cancer? American Cancer Society website. Available at: Accessed April 19, 2021.
What is HPV? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: Accessed April 19, 2021.
Last reviewed March 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 10/8/2021

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