Cervical cancer is cancer that starts in a woman's cervix. The cervix is the lower, thin opening of the uterus that connects the vagina (or birth canal) to the uterus. Cervical cancer grows slowly over time and usually starts with abnormal changes to the cells on the cervix, known as dysplasia. Removing these abnormal cells can prevent cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer screening tests can find the cells that lead to cancer before it starts, or find cancer early when it is most easily treated. The Pap test is the main screening test for cervical cancer. Women who are not screened or have not been screened in a long time could have cervical cancer and not know it. Six out of 10 cervical cancer cases are in women who have never received a Pap test or have not been tested in the past five years.