If cervical cancer is found, it’s typically one of two different types:
Squamous cell carcinoma - This is the most common type of cervical cancer, with about 80% to 90% of all diagnoses in this category. These cancers start in the cells on the outer surface covering of the cervix.
Adenocarcinoma - This type of cervical cancer makes up about 10% to 20% of diagnoses. These cancers start in the glandular cells that line the lower birth canal.
The squamous and glandular cells meet at the opening of the cervix at the squamocolumnar junction, which is the location at which most cervical cancers start. Because of the Pap test used for screening, gynecologists often find precancerous cells on the cervix's surface that are treated in a different process not discussed in this section.
For many women, a diagnosis of cervical cancer comes without warning since, in its earliest stages, there may be no signs or symptoms that something is wrong. Some early signs of cervical cancer could be:
Unusual vaginal bleeding that may occur in between periods, after intercourse, or after menopause
Unusual vaginal discharge that may contain blood and occur between periods or after menopause
Pain during sexual intercourse
More advanced cervical cancer symptoms can include:
Swelling of the legs
Problems urinating or having a bowel movement
Blood in the urine
Schedule a doctor’s appointment if any of these symptoms arise. If found and treated early, cervical cancer can often be cured.