Cervical cancer begins as pre-cancerous changes. This means doctors can find this type of cancer early enough to stop cancer from developing. Finding and treating pre-cancers is critical, as is possibly preventing cervical cancer through elimination of controllable risk factors. Not all cervical cancer is preventable. But many ways of greatly reducing your risk for cervical cancer exist.
Gaining regular Pap tests is one of the most important means of preventing cervical cancer. These tests find treatable pre-cancers before they become actual cancer. Another such test is the human papillomavirus (HPV) test. Doctors find most invasive cervical cancers in women who neglected their need for these tests.
Pap tests collect cervix cells for examination under a microscope to find pre-cancer, cancer or HPV. Pap tests easily take place during pelvic exams. One sampling of cervical cells provides enough cells for both Pap testing and HPV testing.
Other things you can do to prevent development of cervical pre-cancers include:
When your doctor takes a sampling of cervical cells for Pap and HPV testing, he or she examines these cells under a microscope. If cancerous cells are found, their appearance in that microscopic exam determines the type of cancer. The two main types of cervical cancers are squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma.
Most cervical cancers are squamous cell carcinomas. These cancers account for 90 percent of cases and form in the part of the cervix called the exocervix.
The rest of the cervical cancers not determined as being squamous cell carcinomas are either adenocarcinomas or adenosquamous carcinomas. Adenocarcinomas start in the endocervix and make up most of the remaining ten percent of cervical cancers, increasing in occurrence among women in the past two to three decades.
Adenosquamous carcinomas, sometimes called mixed carcinomas, include characteristics of both squamous cell carcinomas and adenosquamous carcinomas.
Cervical cancer treatments show positive results in most cases. These treatments include one or more options, including: