CERVIX, CANCER OF
are then analysed in order to verify
the identity of the organism that is
responsible for the condition.
Treatment is with
If symptoms persist, the
area may be cauterized by
(an electric current is applied),
BIOPSY OF THE CERVIX
If a woman has recurrent abnormal
smears, colposcopy and punch
biopsy or loop excision of the
abnormal areas will be carried out.
If the areas cannot be seen
completely by colposcopy, a larger
sample of tissue is removed by cone
biopsy. This procedure is used for
treatment as well as diagnosis.
Colposcopic view of cervix
This end-on view of the cervix shows moderate
dysplasia (abnormal changes in the cells),
with a discharge at the central canal.
are taken from
any abnormal area.
Bleeding is minimal
following a punch
biopsy and no
If the abnormal area
extends into the
cervical canal, out
of view of the
colposcope, a cone-
cells, is taken using
a scalpel, laser, or,
most commonly, loop
excision. No stitches
centimetres in length and less than
(w om b). The cervix separates the body
of the uterus
The fibrous, smooth muscle tis-
sue of the cervix creates a form of
sphincter (circular muscle), w hich can
stretch open in
The cervical canal runs through the
cervix. It allows the passage o f blood
and o f
the vagina into the uterus following
sexual intercourse, and forms part o f
the birth canal during childbirth. After
puberty, mucus is secreted by the glan-
dular cells in the canal to assist the
entry o f sperm into the upper cervix.
In addition, the mucus protects the
sperm and provides them with energy.
During pregnancy, the internal mus-
cular fibres increase in size, thereby
lengthening the cervix and acting as a
barrier for the retention o f the fetus.
end o f pregnancy,
cervix begins to shorten in readiness
for labour and delivery. During labour
the cervical canal widens up to 10 cm
in diameter to allow the baby to pass
from the uterus. Soon after childbirth,
the muscles in the cervix contract and
the canal returns to its original size.
The cervix may be injured, or may
develop infections or other disorders
disorders box, below). Such
conditions are usually investigated by
means of a
or swabs taken from the
cervix. In cases of suspected cancer or a
(inspection of the cervix with a view-
ing instrument) may be performed.
cervix, cancer of
One of the most common forms of
Cancer of the
(the neck of the
uterus) has well-defined precancerous
occur in cells on the surface of the
type of changes can be detected by a
cervical smear test
In many cases, this
detection allows early treatment lead-
ing to a complete cure. If left untreated,
spread to the organs in the
There are two main types of cervical
cancer: the squamous type and a much
rarer form called adenocarcinoma.
The squamous type of cervical can-
cer is thought to be associated with
(HPV), w hich may be contracted dur-
ing sexual intercourse. The other factors
that predispose a woman to developing
this type of cancer are smoking, start-
ing to have sex at an early age, having
many sexual partners, and having a
depressed immune system.
The second type of cervical cancer,
adenocarcinoma, sometimes occurs in
women w ho have never had sexual
intercourse. Its causes are unknown.
In many cases, cancer of the cervix is
detected before symptoms develop. If
DISORDERS OF THE CERVIX
(neck of the uterus) may
be susceptible to injuries, infections,
tumours, and other conditions.
Minor injury to the cervix may occur
during childbirth, particularly if labour
is prolonged. Persistent damage to
muscle fibres as a result of injury may
The most common cervical infections
are sexually transmitted diseases, such
gonorrhoea, chlamydial infections,
Viral infections of the
cervix include those due to the human
papillomavirus and the herpes simplex
warts, genital; herpes, genital).
are noncancerous growths that
occur on the cervix. Cancerous growths
cervix, cancer of)
are preceded by
changes in the surface cells (
which can be detected by
cervical smear test.
is a condition in which
mucus-secreting cells form on the
outside of the cervix.