What is cervical cancer? Cervical cancer is a common malignant tumor of the female reproductive system, specifically the cervix of the uterus. Cervical cancer is the third most common type of cancer in women in the world. However, the routine use of Pap smear screening has made it far less common in the United States, according to the National Institutes of Health. (Source: NIH). The cervix is the organ that provides an opening between the vagina and the uterus. Normally, cells in a woman’s cervix that are old or damaged will stop dividing and die. These cells are replaced by healthy young cells. The earliest, precancerous stage of cervical cancer occurs when old or damaged cells continue to divide in the superficial layer of the cervix. This is called cervical dysplasia. When cervical dysplasia is not treated, it can grow and spread into the deeper tissues of the cervix, developing into cervical cancer. Regular Pap smear screening tests can detect cervical dysplasia long before it develops into cervical cancer. Cervical dysplasia is 100% treatable. Once cervical cancer has developed, the prognosis varies depending on the cancer’s stage of advancement; your age, general health status, and medical history; and other factors. Cervical cancer can lead to life-threatening complications and be fatal, especially if it goes undetected and untreated. Seeking regular medical care offers the best chances of discovering cervical cancer in its earliest, most curable stage. If you have cervical cancer, following your treatment plan may help reduce your risk of serious complications. The good news is that if diagnosed and treated in an early stage of development, cervical cancer is curable in many cases.