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The cervix or cervix uteri (Latin: neck of the uterus) is the lower part of the uterus in the human female reproductive system. In a non-pregnant woman, the cervix is usually 2 to 3 cm long (~1 inch) and roughly cylindrical in shape. The narrow, central cervical canal runs along its entire length, connecting the uterine cavity and the lumen of the vagina.
Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix — the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina.
Various strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection, play a role in causing most cervical cancer.
When exposed to HPV, a woman’s immune system typically prevents the virus from doing harm. In a small group of women, however, the virus survives for years, contributing to the process that causes some cells on the surface of the cervix to become cancer cells.
You can reduce your risk of developing cervical cancer by having screening tests and receiving a vaccine that protects against HPV infection.
A well-proven way to prevent cervical cancer is to have testing (screening) to find pre-cancers before they can turn into invasive cancer. The Pap test (or Pap smear) and the human papilloma virus (HPV) test are used for this. If a pre-cancer is found it can be treated, stopping cervical cancer before it really starts.