Types of cervical cancer
The 2 main types of cervical cancer are named after the type of cells they originate from:
- Squamous cell carcinoma: the most common type of cervical cancer (about 80% of all cases), squamous cell carcinoma starts in the squamous cells of the cervix.
- Adenocarcinoma: a less common type of cervical cancer that develops from the glandular cells. Adenocarcinoma is more difficult to diagnose because it starts higher in the cervix, and is more difficult to reach with the brush or spatula used in a Cervical Screening Test. Screening using HPV testing has the potential to improve detection of adenocarcinoma and its precursors.
Cervical cancer can be microinvasive or invasive:
- Microinvasive cancer occurs when cancer cells have broken through the boundary between the surface of the cervix and the tissue underneath, but have not spread more than 5 millimetres into the tissues of the cervix.
- Invasive cervical cancer occurs when cancer cells have spread more than 5 millimetres into the underlying tissue. Cancer may have also spread to the vagina, the lymph nodes, other tissues surrounding the cervix, or nearby organs such as the bladder or rectum.