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Types of cervical cancer

Women discussing cervical cancer

This page is about the main types of cervical cancer. If you are looking for information about abnormal smears, you need to go to either the screening page, which has information about what smear results mean. Or you can go to the section about treating abnormal cervical cells.

There are two main types of cervical cancer

They are named after the type of cell that becomes cancerous. 

Squamous cell cancer

Squamous cells are the flat, skin like cells that cover the outer surface of the cervix (the ectocervix). Around 7 to 8 out of 10 cervical cancers are squamous cell cancer (70 to 80%).

Adenocarcinoma

Adenomatous cells are gland cells that produce mucus. The cervix has these gland cells scattered along the inside of the passageway that runs from the cervix to the womb (the endocervical canal). Adenocarcinoma is a cancer of these gland cells. It is less common than squamous cell cancer, but has become more common in recent years. More than 1 in 10 cervical cancers are adenocarcinoma (10 to 15%). It is treated in the same way as squamous cell cancer of the cervix.

Other rarer types of cancer

Very rarely, other types of cancer can occur in the cervix. An example is lymphoma, which is a cancer of the lymphatic system. If you have this rare cancer, then this section is not the right one for you. We have another section about lymphoma and its treatment.

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Updated: 29 May 2014