Cervical cancer comes in different forms. There are really only two main cervical cancer types, but there are also some lesser known kinds as well. Squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma make up the two main types. Each of these is named based upon the types of cells that become cancerous.
On the outer surface of the cervix (the ectocervix), there are sort of flat skin cells covering this surface. These cells are squamous cells. When these cells become cancerous, then squamous cell carcinoma is formed. This type of cancer is the most typical form of cancer of cervix. Almost 50 percent of the women diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma are in midlife, and 20 percent are over the age of 65. This type of cervical cancer is often preventable with regular Pap tests. Since these cells are on the surface of the cervix, doctors can usually detect them and remove them before becoming cancerous. Pap tests are the suspected reason for the decrease every year in squamous cell carcinoma diagnoses.
In the endocervical canal, there are glands that produce mucus. When cancer forms in these glands, then a person has Adenocarcinoma. This cancer gets its name from the gland cells that produce this mucus. In the more recent year, this type of cervical cancer has been diagnosed more. However, it is still not as common as squamous cell cancer. Adenocarcinoma makes up 15 to 20 percent of all patients diagnosed with cervical cancer. Like squamous cell cancer, woman in their midlife are more prone to having this kind of cervical cancer.
3% to 5% of cervical cancers have the characteristics of both squamous cell cancer and adenocarcinoma. The result is a cancer called adenosquamous carcinoma.
The lesser known forms of cervical cancer make up a small portion of the types diagnosed. There are other ones such as lymphoma, small cell, and neuroendocrine carcinoma. In fact these make up less than 3% of the cervical cancer cases diagnosed.
Cervical cancer can come in different forms. However, almost all of the diagnosed cases fall into the two main types of this cancer.