The cervix is part of the female reproductive system, which also includes the fallopian tubes, uterus (womb), ovaries, vagina (birth canal) & vulva (external genitals). 1

The cervix has an outer surface that opens into the vagina and an inner surface that lines the cervical canal. These two surfaces are covered by two types of cells:

Squamous cells – flat, thin cells that cover the outer surface of the cervix (ectocervix). Cancer of the squamous cells is called squamous cell carcinoma. Glandular cells – column-shaped cells that cover the inner surface of the cervix (cervical canal or endocervix). Cancer of the glandular cells is called adenocarcinoma.

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The most common cervical cancer is squamous cell carcinoma, accounting for 80-85% of cases. Adenocarcinoma is less common and more difficult to lớn diagnose because it starts higher in the cervix.2

There is no known genetic cause of cervical cancer. 1

Nearly all cervical cancers are caused by HPV infections. Although you cannot inherit cervical cancer, you may still be more likely to lớn have it because of your genes. For example, women with a mother or sister who had the disease may have a higher risk of developing it themselves. It is currently not understood if this is caused by an inherited condition that makes some women more vulnerable to lớn HPV infection than others. 3

Cervical cancer is typically staged using the FIGO (International Federation of Gynaecology & Obstetrics) system.12

There are four stages of cervical cancer ranging from Stage I to lớn Stage IV, which gives an indication of how little (Stage I) to lớn how much (Stage IV) the cancer has progressed.

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Within each stage (I-IV) there are sub-stages, listed from A through khổng lồ D which describe the extent of the tumour.

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As the staging of cervical cancer can be complex, it is important lớn discuss your individual diagnosis and stage with your specialist.


Cervical cancer usually has no symptoms in its early stages. The only way lớn know if there are abnormal cells in the cervix that may develop into cervical cancer is khổng lồ have a cervical screening test.1