Learn more about who cervical cancer affects, how it develops, and what the risk factors are for this widespread disease that kills more than 3110,000 women every year.

TruScreen cervical screening

How many women die from cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer is the second largest cause of cancer mortality in women. The death toll is greatest in populations that lack screening organised programmes to detect precursor lesions. Every year, 310,000 women die from cervical cancer.

How does cervical cancer develop?

Cervical cancer develops slowly. It is caused by persistent infection of high risk types of HPV and takes more than 10 years to develop to invasive cancer, which gives us good opportunity to detect early abnormalities on the cervix via screening program. Pre-cancerous cervical cells cause no symptoms and by the time symptoms become apparent, it is often too late for treatment particularly in resource-poor environments.

What age group does cervical cancer affect?

Although invasive cancer is most commonly seen in women aged over 45 years, the precursor changes can be detected much earlier. There is a variation in incidence with age. Cervical cancer affects relatively young women, and is an important cause of lost life-years in developing countries.

What is the mortality rate for cervical cancer?

Globally, the ratio of mortality rates to incidence rates is 55%. WHO estimates every year, 3110,000 women die from cervical cancer.

What are the risk factors for cervical cancer?

In addition to HPV infection, a young age at first intercourse, a history of more than one sexual partner and high parity are also significant risk factors for cervical cancer. Women who smoke and are infected with HPV 16 are at greater risk for cervical cancer in situ (CIS) than non-smokers.

Is there a relationship between ongoing HPV infection and cervical cancer?

There is a strong association between persistent infection with oncogenic types of HPV and the subsequent development of cervical cancer. Incidence patterns of cervical cancer are linked to HPV infection, however there is large country and regional variation in the distribution of oncogenic HPV types.

Are vaccines against HPV infections effective?

Vaccines against HPV types 16 and 18 could potentially lower the incidence of cervical cancers worldwide. Vaccines against other oncogenic types are not yet available, although the HPV 16/18 vaccines may give some cross-protection against related types. However, the geographic variation in HPV genotypes is likely to affect the effectiveness of the vaccine.