The female’s reproductive system includes the cervix, uterus (womb), vulva, ovaries, vagina and fallopian tubes. The cervix has a cylinder shape and is part of the lower uterus which is connected to the vagina. For the purpose of this article, we will look at the glandular cervix and how it relates to cancer.
The cervix, also referred to as the uterus neck, has an external surface that will open into the vagina as well as an interior surface that is facing into the uterus. This inner surface is the cervical canal. Now, there are two types of cells covering the cervix: the glandular cells inside the cervical canal and the squamous cells on the outer layer.
What is a glandular cervix? How it connects to cancer cells
Glandular cells create mucus and develop inside the uterus and cervix opening. Cervical cancer has two main kinds of cancerous cells, the adenocarcinomas and the squamous carcinomas. The latter makes up about eighty to ninety percent of the cervical cancers and usually starts within the thin cells at the bottom lining of the cervix. The Adenocarcinomas cells make up ten to twenty percent and would begin inside the glandular cells at the upper lining of the cervix.
In general, cervical cancer grows slowly but the kind that is caused by the atypical glandular cells is usually far more aggressive. The atypical glandular cervix cells might show a slight abnormality, which is not a certainty that they are cancerous. In this case, further testing will be recommended to identify the source of any abnormal cells as well as determine their significance. This is the main reason why women are encouraged to do pap smear testing at least one time a year once they are sexually active or 18 years and older.
The good news is that not all the atypical glandular cervix cells will indicate a cancer. At times the cells are pre-cancerous, meaning that they are not normal and could become cancer down the road. In other cases, they might be triggered by the virus and could cause further complications besides the cervical cancer.
At this point, it’s important to point out that cervical cancer is primarily caused by HPV or human papillomavirus which spreads during sexual contact. Although this virus is not always the cause, it is main contributor in most cases. Persons with strong immune system are usually in a better position to fight off the virus.
In closing, doctors might perform a colposcopy procedure to examine the cervix, vulva and vagina tissues when a Pap smear testing is abnormal. The doctor may also do a biopsy (take tissue sample) from areas which show up as abnormal. There are additional resources available if you want more details on glandular cervix.