What is cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer is when abnormal cells in the lining of the cervix grow uncontrollably and eventually form a growth (tumour).

Symptoms of cervical cancer

Not everyone diagnosed with cervical cancer will have symptoms. Things to look out for include unusual vaginal bleeding, pain during sex or vaginal discharge.

Getting diagnosed with cervical cancer

You usually start by seeing your GP if you have symptoms that could be due to cervical cancer. Your doctor will then decide whether to do tests or refer you to a specialist.

Survival for cervical cancer

Survival depends on many factors including the stage and type of your cervical cancer. 

Treatment for cervical cancer

Your treatment depends on several factors. These include what type of cervical cancer you have, how big it is, whether it has spread (the stage) and the grade. It also depends on your general health.

Cervical screening

The cervical screening test aims to pick up changes early that could develop into cervical cancer if left untreated.

Stages, types and grades of cervical cancer

The stage of a cancer tells you about its size and whether it has spread. The type means the type of cell the cancer started from. The grade means how abnormal the cells look under the microscope.

Abnormal cervical cells

An abnormal cervical screening test result means that you have changes in the cells covering the neck of your womb (cervix). Abnormal cervical cells are not the same as cervical cancer.

Advanced cervical cancer

Advanced cervical cancer means that a cancer that began in the cervix (the neck of the womb) has spread to another part of the body. Or the cancer has come back after treatment.

Research and clinical trials for cervical cancer

Current research is looking at ways to improve the screening and treatment of cervical cancer. 

Living with cervical cancer

There is support available during and after treatment to help you cope. This includes support from your clinical nurse specialist, cancer charities, community services, and family and friends.

Risks and causes of cervical cancer

There are several possible risks and causes of cervical cancer, including human papilloma virus (HPV), which is a major cause.

Last reviewed: 
04 Sep 2023
Next review due: 
04 Sep 2026