The development of cervical cancer is gradual and begins as a pre-cancerous condition called dysplasia. It is usually a slow-growing cancer and if caught early can be successfully treated. Routine Pap smears can detect early changes in the cells of the cervix allowing cervical cancer to be caught early.
Update Date 12/4/2015
Updated by: Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.