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All right, now let’s go over some anatomy and physiology. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus, and can be divided into two sections; the inner part is called the endocervix, which is a narrow canal that leads into the uterus; while the outer part is called the ectocervix, and it sticks out into the vagina.
Zooming in, the endocervix is lined by mucus-secreting simple columnar epithelial cells. Conversely, the ectocervix is continuous with the vagina and is lined by stratified squamous epithelial cells. The area where the two epithelia meet is called the transformation zone, and it is where there is a change from columnar cells to squamous cells, called the squamocolumnar junction. The exact location of the squamocolumnar junction will change or shift depending on the age of the individual, as well as changes in the size of the uterus during menstruation.
Now, cervical cancer can arise due to a variety of causes and risk factors. Most cervical cancers are caused by human papillomavirus, or HPV for short. Specifically, high-risk HPV strains such as 16 and 18 are responsible for more than half of all cervical cancers. Since HPV is a sexually transmitted infection, the risk of developing cervical cancer is higher in clients who engage in unprotected sex or who have multiple sexual partners. Additional risk factors include early age at first sexual intercourse, smoking, having a compromised immune system, obesity, long-term use of oral contraceptive pills, as well as having a family history of cervical cancer.
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