Cervical cancer was once one of the most common cancers affecting women. In past years, medical researchers have reported a significant decrease in incidences of cervical cancer, which has been attributed to increase in regular Pap tests being performed. Pap tests are a crucial part of preventing cervical cancer since they can detect precancerous lesions and abnormal cell growth before cancer develops.
Most cervical cancer cases are related to the human Papillomavirus (HPV). This sexually transmitted infection can influence the development of cervical cancer as it aids in the abnormal growth of cervical cells.
These cells do not always develop in the same way, which is why there are 3 discernible types of cervical cancer.
What are the Different Types of Cervical Cancer?
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
A vast majority of cervical cancers are squamous cell carcinomas. This particular form of cervical cancer develops from cells in the exocervix, which is the part of the cervix that is closest to the uterus. The cancer often begins in the transformation zone where the exocervix meets the endocervix.
The next most common type of cervical cancer is an adenocarcinoma. Adenocarcinomas specifically occur in mucus-producing gland cells of the cervix. While less common than squamous cell carcinomas, cervical adenocarcinomas have become more common in the last 20-30 years.
Mixed Carcinoma or Adenosquamous Carcinoma
Very rarely, women may encounter another cervical cancer that exhibits characteristics of both squamous cell carcinomas and adenocarcinomas. These are known as adenosquamous carcinomas, or mixed carcinomas.
Cervical Cancer Screening Recommendations
A crucial part to preventing cervical cancer is to attend regular examinations starting at age 21. The American Cancer Society (ACS), ASCCP, and the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) recommend a Pap test every 3 years in order to properly screen for signs of cervical cancer.
Once women reach age 30, they may begin receiving Pap tests only every 5 years, and can also discontinue screenings after age 65 if all prior tests have been negative.
A patient may also request an individual test for signs of cervical cancer at any time. To schedule a cervical cancer screening with your OBGYN at Birmingham Obstetrics & Gynecology, please contact our office today at (205) 933-8334.