Cervical cancer is a cancer of the female reproductive system that originates in the cervix.
It’s one of the most common cancers in women and it’s usually the result of an infection by the human papillomavirus, or HPV.
It has also played a huge role in scientific research thanks to cervical cancer cells from a woman called Henrietta Lacks, which were the first human cells to be grown in a laboratory and which continue to be used to this day in labs around the world.
The cervix is also called the neck of the uterus, and it protrudes into the vagina.
The interior cavity of the cervix is called the cervical canal and it can be divided into two sections.
The endocervix is closer to the uterus, not visible to the naked eye, and it’s lined by columnar epithelial cells that produce mucus.
The ectocervix is the continuous with the vagina and it’s lined by mature squamous epithelial cells.
Where the squamous epithelium of the ectocervix and the columnar epithelium of the endocervix meet, there’s a line called the squamocolumnar junction.
And right where the two types of cells meet, there’s the transformation zone - which is where sub-columnar reserve cells multiply and transform into immature squamous epithelium through a process called metaplasia.
Normally, mature cells are stuck in the G1, or Growth 1, phase of the cell cycle, which is when cells grow take care of regular cellular business, like synthesizing proteins and producing energy.
Eventually, whenever new cells are needed, they’ll exit G1 and keep going through the rest of the cell cycle to eventually divide in two new identical daughter cells.
Sometimes though, cells can be pushed out of G1 and go through the cell reproduction cycle faster than the body needs new cells.