Cervical cancer occurs when abnormal cells on the cervix grow out of control. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus that opens into the vagina. Cervical cancer can often be cured when it's found early; it's usually found at a very early stage through a Pap test.
Most cervical cancer is caused by a virus called human papillomavirus, or HPV. You can get HPV by having sexual contact with someone who has it. There are many types of the HPV virus, and not all cause cervical cancer. Some cause genital warts, and other types may not cause any symptoms. You can have HPV for years and not know it. It stays in your body and can lead to cervical cancer years after you were infected. This is why it's important to have regular Pap tests. A Pap test can find changes in cervical cells before they turn into cancer. If you treat these cell changes, you may prevent cervical cancer.