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What is Cervical Cancer?

The cervix is at the top of your vagina and is the opening to your uterus. The cervix is made up of cells. Cells are the building blocks of our bodies.

In some women, cells on the cervix can change from healthy to abnormal. Often the cells change back to healthy cells on their own. These changes are the result of persistent infection with high risk types of Human Papillomavirus (HPV). In most healthy women, these infections go away on their own.

Other times, cell changes are the first steps that can lead to cancer of the cervix. The good news is that almost all cancers of the cervix can be stopped when early cell changes are found and treated. A regular Pap test can show changes that can be treated before they become cancer.

Cervical dysplasia is a term used to describe the appearance of abnormal cells on the surface of the cervix, the lowest part of the uterus. These changes in cervical tissue are classified as mild, moderate, or severe. While dysplasia itself does not cause health problems, it is considered to be a precancerous condition. Left untreated, dysplasia sometimes progresses to an early form of cancer known as cervical carcinoma in situ, and eventually to invasive cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer remains the 12th most common cancer diagnosis in Canadian women.

It is the 3rd most common cancer among women aged 20-49.

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