There are two main types of cervical cancer. The most common is squamous-cell carcinoma. This type develops from the cells that cover the outside surface of the cervix in the upper part of the vagina.

The other type is called adenocarcinoma. This type develops from the gland cells that line the endocervix. Since adenocarcinoma starts in the endocervix, it may be more difficult to detect using cervical screening tests.

There are also two other common types of cervical cancer known as adenosquamous carcinomas, clear-cell carcinomas, and small-cell carcinomas.


Your gynecologist will have to perform some additional tests to check on your overall state of health and see if the cancer has spread beyond the cervix. These tests may included any of the following:

Blood test

A blood sample is taken to check the number of cells in the blood and to see how the kidneys and liver are functioning.

Chest x-ray

To check the lungs and heart.

CT (computed tomography)

A CT takes a series of x-rays, creating a 3-D image of the inside of the body. It takes from 10-15 minutes and is painless. A small amount of radiation is used, though it is very unlikely to cause you any harm. You will be asked to refrain from eating and drinking for at least an hour before the procedure.

You may be given a drink or an injection with a dye, which makes it possible to see certain areas more clearly. This may make you feel hot for a few minutes. It is important that you inform your health professionals if you are allergic to iodine or have asthma, as you may have a reaction to the injection.

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)

This test uses magnetism to build a detailed image of one of the areas of your body. The scanner is a powerful magnet, which is why you will be asked to fill out and sign a checklist and provide your consent. As part of this consent form, you will be asked if you have any implants such as a pacemaker or surgical clips. You should also tell your doctor if you have ever worked with metals or in the metal industry.

Before the scan, you will be asked to remove all metal belongings, including jewelery. Sometimes, a contrast dye is given by injection in a vein of the arm to help the images come through more clearly.

You will have to remain very still during the test, which lasts about 30 minutes. The process is painless but can be somewhat uncomfortable, and some people experience a bit of claustrophobia. It is also quite loud, though you will be given earplugs or headphones.


This is a combination of computed tomography and positron emission tomography (PET). PET uses low doses of radiation to measure cell activity in different parts of the body. This test offers more detailed information on the part of the body being scanned.

You will not be able to eat for six hours before the test. A slightly radioactive substance is injected into a vein (normally the arm). This is followed by a wait of at least an hour before the examination, which takes between 30 and 90 minutes.