About cervical cancer
Current estimates indicate that more than 10,000 women in South Africa are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year and just over half of that number succumb to the disease. These statistics rank cervical cancer as the second most common cancer overall among women in South Africa, second only to breast cancer, and the most common cancer among women
Cervical cancer begins in a woman’s cervix, which connects the vagina, birth canal, and womb. The cervix has two types of surface; the external ectocervix that opens into the vagina and an internal surface that lines the endocervix cervical canal.
Each type of surface has different types of cells; the exocervix, the outer surface, is covered with squamous cells while the inner surface, the endocervix, is covered with glandular cells. The area where these two types of cells meet is called the Transformation Zone, where most cervical cancers start.
There are two main types of cervical cancer that begin in the cell types listed above. The most common cervical cancer (about 70% of cases) begins in squamous cells and is known as squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). The second type is adenocarcinoma, which is responsible for about 25% of all cervical cancer cases and begins in the glandular cells of
the cervix. Because the glandular cells are higher in the cervix, adenocarcinoma is more difficult to diagnose.
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