Cervical Cancer is a disease characterized by abnormal or uncontrolled cell growth of cervical cells. It originates in the epithelial cells lining the interior and exterior surfaces of the cervix (i.e., “transformation zone”, the point of entry into the uterus).
As with many other cancers, the key to survival is early detection and appropriate treatment. The disease progression for cervical cancer is very slow, occurring over a decade on average. The purpose of cervical screening by Pap test is to identify this process before it has become cancer and while it is most amenable to therapy. Common clinical practice today is to follow patients exhibiting mild changes such as ASCUS (abnormal squamous cells of unknown significance) and low-grade cervical intraepithelial lesions (CIN 1) with another Pap test in 6-12 months. Patients with CIN 3 or greater are treated more aggressively with colposcopy, punch biopsy or excisional biopsy, while patients with CIN 2 are provided with an intermediate course of action.