The cervix is the part of the sexual and reproductive anatomy that joins the vagina to the uterus. During menstruation, the lining of the uterus is shed through the cervix into the vagina. The cervix also widens during childbirth for a baby to be born.
Cervical cancer starts in the cells of the cervix. Before cervical cancer develops, the cells of the cervix start to change and become abnormal. These abnormal cells are precancerous, meaning they are not cancer. Precancerous changes to the cervix are called dysplasia of the cervix (or cervical dysplasia). Dysplasia of the cervix is a common precancerous change that can develop into cancer if it isn’t treated. It is important to know that most people with dysplasia do not develop cancer.
The good news is that cervical screening can detect early cell changes and treatment options can follow, if necessary, to stop cancer before it starts.