Researchers believe that a new preventative cancer treatment could be developed after they discovered which cervical cells were more susceptible to the human papillomavirus (HPV).
An international team at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and clinics in Singapore, found those cells most likely to develop into tumours when exposed to HPV had a specific DNA structure which doctors could use to identify and remove them.
This could drastically lower the likelihood of a women developing cervical cancer, as it is HPV which is responsible for the majority of cases.
Jessica Harris, health information manager at Cancer Research UK, said the report aids understanding of the origins of cervical cancer and may allow doctors to improve their treatment of the disease in the future.
However, she stressed that vaccination and screening remain an effective way of preventing cervical cell changes and subsequent cancers.
According to the charity, around 900 women die from the disease every year in the UK.